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The Best Parking Apps You've Never Heard Of and Why You Haven't

langelgjm Re:Bicycle! And motorcycle. (163 comments)

I'm surprised you even find garages that let you in. Most garages around me (and even just lots) specifically say no motorcycles. I think it's liability fears about the gate coming down on your head or something.

4 days ago
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Ask Slashdot: How Can I Prepare For the Theft of My Android Phone?

langelgjm Re:Physical security? (374 comments)

Theft/burglary is extremely common in South Africa. Also, the Metrorail is well-known to be a prime location for crime. I visited a few months ago, and the advice was that the train was fine with more than a few people, but sometimes the cars will be nearly empty, and that is bad news. At the flat where I was staying, a tourist had had her baggage rifled through when she accidentally left a window open (virtually all properties are fenced in, so the burglar had to climb the fence to get in through the window).

about a month ago
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Time sucked into Netflix or similar, weekly:

langelgjm Not a model citizen at all (146 comments)

Sir, you are a model citizen. Keep up the good work. Love, The MPAA

Not at all. Remember, in addition to buying all that media, he explicitly said this:

We also have a smattering of S-VHS stuff that I recorded from broadcast that we occasionally watch.

Sony v. Universal pretty clearly indicated that building a library of tapes recorded off the air (as opposed to purely time-shifting) was not a fair use. So it's probably more like, "Sir, you are a model customer. Keep up the good work. Also, you will be hearing from our lawyers shortly. Love, the MPAA."

After all, there's hardly anyone the content industries love to sue more than their customers!

about a month and a half ago
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Why We Need To Teach Hacking In High School

langelgjm A supportive high school environment helps a lot (124 comments)

I went to a private high school. It was small and didn't have many resources. Still, I was fortunate to have a very supportive environment for my exploration and learning related to computing.

The teacher who taught programming had actually managed IT/network stuff in Micronesia, so she was not in the habit of throwing old tech out. We received a lot of donated equipment from various businesses, and she saved most of it in a storage room. When she found out how interested I was in technology, she basically gave me the run of the place - allowed me to take home equipment to play with, just hang out in there during lunch and after school, put together new machines for the lab, etc. This was where I first learned about other architectures - got my hands on an old DEC Alpha.

When she saw that I had already self-taught some programming, she allowed me to skip directly to an advanced programming course, and teach myself as an independent study.

Later, she let me set up an NT server with roving profiles and network home directories for the lab, so that students in the general office suite classes could save their work on the network, keep it backed up, and their teacher would have centralized access to it. Prior to this, they were all using floppy disks.

Without that environment I'd still have been interested and involved with tech, but it sure made it easier and more interesting, and I learned a lot. I suspect that many teachers might not have been willing to allow a student so much freedom, or that policies might have forbidden it.

about 2 months ago
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Electric Bikes Get More Elegant Every Year (Video)

langelgjm Not in my experience (164 comments)

The racing position is favoured by people who race bikes. Those people wouldn't want an electric bike. The upright position is preferred by most people going to work, school etc by bicycle -- there's a better view, and it's more comfortable.

That really depends on how far you have to go. In my experience, upright seating might be more comfortable for short distances, and it's probably easier to get on and off. But I bicycle to my office most days, about 4.5 miles one way (which is not long) on a road bike outfitted with a rack and panniers. It is not a "racing" position, but I do lean forward and have drop handlebars. The seat is level with the handlebars.

That position removes a lot of weight from your crotch area, and transfers it to your arms. I find sharing the weight between two areas to be more comfortable, although it requires proper positioning of the handlebars, wearing gloves, and switching grip positions to keep hands and wrists comfortable.

The view is fine, and is amplified by a rear view mirror. Also wearing a high-visibility vest will do much more for your visibility than the difference between the two positions.

Then, the nice thing is I can remove the panniers and easily ride 30 miles or more on a weekend in a reasonable amount of time without needing a second bicycle.

about 2 months ago
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Slashdot Tries Something New; Audience Responds!

langelgjm Side by side comparison (2219 comments)

Trashing some mod points to post this, but here's a side-by-side comparison.

Important differences: Classic shows me the text of 7 comments. Beta shows me the text of 2.

Classic uses about 85% of the horizontal width of the screen for comments. Beta uses about 50% or less.

Those are probably the most relevant differences for me. We all come here for the comments, since the stories are by definition published elsewhere first. If a redesign makes it harder to read comments, that's a problem.

about 2 months ago
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Skinny Puppy Wants Compensation For Music Used in US Interrogations

langelgjm Gitmo is not a bar (271 comments)

It's different because Gitmo is not a bar.

Unless there is an explicit exemption in copyright law

Nope. Easiest way out of this is to claim that torturing detainees is not a public performance, so the use does not need to be licensed. And frankly, that argument is probably correct. Especially if they are blasting it with headphones, which is one of the things I've read. Maybe if they're piping it to a bunch of headphones simultaneously Skinny Puppy could have an argument...

But how do you think this lawsuit will go down? The government will simply say it can't describe interrogation techniques in detail because NATIONAL SECURITY. Also, suing the Feds for copyright infringement is harder than suing anyone else, and even if you win you can only collect minimum statutory damages.

about 2 months ago
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Is Verizon Already Slowing Netflix Down?

langelgjm Basically never believe what CSRs say (298 comments)

Why would anyone believe what a low-level CSR tells them in a chat session? This is like when an eBay CSR claimed that eBay did not allow the sale of Bitcoin mining rigs a few weeks ago. The person didn't know what they were talking about.

Not to mention this is Verizon, who can't tell $0.002 from 0.002 cents. Engaging them on a topic of any complexity is sure to lead to hilarity and/or frustration.

about 2 months ago
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Why Games Should Be In the Public Domain

langelgjm Re:Hits the nail on the head (360 comments)

So the idea of having copyrights as a substitute for pensions is as bad as having lottery tickets mailed out periodically instead of social security checks. A few lucky people will strike it rich, but it's no good for the vast majority.

To be clear, this is not something I'm actually advocating. It just struck me that perhaps some copyright promoters are trying to accomplish for artists what pensions do for police. And as you point out, copyright is a terrible way of doing that.

I think copyright promoters need to figure out what they actually want. Do they want to "own" their "property", even if it has no value in the marketplace for most artists? Is that what is most important? Or is providing a reasonable income by some means more important than control?

And anyway, if you want financial support, surely a system that is applicable to everyone, rather than just highly successful and lucky artists would be more fair.

Totally agree. Spreading income out over a lifetime is something that is relevant to everyone, yet copyright provides only a (bad) solution for a small segment of the population.

about 2 months ago
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Why Games Should Be In the Public Domain

langelgjm In many non-US countries attribution =/= copyright (360 comments)

While attribution and copyright are lumped together they should not be. You should have the right for your work to carry your name indefinitely, others shouldn't be allowed to claim your work as theirs.

In many non-US countries attribution and copyright are not in fact lumped together. The concept of moral rights allows for perpetual claims to attribution, while copyright's economic aspects are dealt with separately.

The U.S. does not really have moral rights (except, technically, a bastardized form in the VARA), which unfortunately forces us to rely more on copyright for issues of attribution, thereby confusing the issue.

about 2 months ago
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Why Games Should Be In the Public Domain

langelgjm Re:Hits the nail on the head (360 comments)

I love his comparison of a policeman to a song writer.

Thing is, one could argue that policeman actually do get paid for arrests made 35 years ago. They get pensions.

Of course, pensions are technically supposed to be deferred compensation. But practically speaking, isn't the "artists' rights" lobby (which is not the same as the copyright lobby) really arguing for a pension? Albeit one that varies by popularity of the work, and extends to dependents.

In both cases the goal is to stretch out income over the lifetime of a person. Maybe copyright could benefit from thinking about that goal. Of course, pensions seem to be a passing fad now, so maybe not.

about 2 months ago
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Why Games Should Be In the Public Domain

langelgjm But updates qualify for copyright, too. (360 comments)

thief, for example, might have dated visuals, but there's nothing lacking in terms of gameplay or experience, and if given some fresh visuals, could stand against some other things I've played lately.

Totally agree with you with respect to Thief. I've actually been playing Thief II recently. The gameplay is so good, and the concept and missions so interesting that I still enjoy playing it 14 years later.

The graphics are of course abysmal by today's standards. But, I think it's worth noting that if Thief or Thief II was "given some fresh visuals" as you say, it would qualify for a new copyright. Besides, if someone went through the trouble of updating visuals, they'd probably release new missions as well, at which point you simply have a sequel.

BTW, there is a multiplayer mod for Thief II floating around, and it does work... it can be great fun if you have another Thief lover!

about 2 months ago
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Virtual Boss Keeps Workers On a Short Leash

langelgjm Re:Manna (664 comments)

Accidentally moderated redundant, meant to give you an insightful... posting to remove!

about 2 months ago
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Feds Grab 163 Web Sites, Snatch $21.6 Million In NFL Counterfeit Gear

langelgjm Note also that Feds destroy rather than donate (133 comments)

Due to a law passed after Hurricane Katrina, when trademark holders got upset that poor and displaced people were wearing counterfeit clothing, the feds have to destroy all the seized clothing rather than donate it to charity.

China tends to donate seized counterfeit goods to charity. The US actually sued China at the WTO over this practice, and eventually lost.

about 3 months ago
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Federal Agency Data-Mining Hundreds of Millions of Credit Card Accounts

langelgjm Re:It's not private... (264 comments)

You can bet the NSA collects this exact same information.

This. I'm glad someone else pointed it out.

The critical difference that this bloviating idiot of a Representative purposely fails to highlight is that we're having an open debate about whether and what the CFPB should collect.

Whereas the NSA has been "collecting" (if by collecting, we mean sending NSLs forcing companies to turn over their entire databases, or provide access to the NSA on an ongoing basis without telling anyone, or if they don't comply, simply stealing the information) credit records, bank records, cell phone records complete with geolocation information, etc. for years.

about 3 months ago
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Federal Agency Data-Mining Hundreds of Millions of Credit Card Accounts

langelgjm Give me a break (264 comments)

These two things are nothing alike. This sounds like a Republican attempt to induce some guilt by association for the CFPB, which they hate so much.

First, there's the fact that we're hearing about this in a Congressional hearing directly from agency personnel, with numerous details. As opposed to having agency personnel lie directly to Congress, and that only after a leak.

Second, why do we think the CFPB is collecting this information? Um, probably to see if credit card and mortgage companies are engaging in predatory lending practices, or abiding by regulations, or to better understand consumer financial behavior in the U.S. You know, things within their mandate. As opposed to the NSA, which has no business dealing with domestic intelligence.

Now there are legitimate concerns about the quality of anonymization, why they can't use a sampling technique, who the contractor is, and what federal agencies should have access to the data. Note that these are everyday issues that the U.S. Census Bureau and the IRS deal with all the time.

Not surprising to see this coming from the Washington Examiner, which if you don't know, is DC's right-leaning daily.

about 3 months ago
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How loud is your primary computer?

langelgjm Re:I've gotten the howling fans on my dual G5 mac (371 comments)

Out of curiosity, what distro are you using? Also I'd imagine you end up compiling a lot of software yourself, as PPC binaries seem to be unusual in most distros?

I tried Debian on my G5 for a while, but ended up switching back to OS X 10.5, almost entirely for multi-monitor support.

about 3 months ago
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How loud is your primary computer?

langelgjm It did say "primary"... (371 comments)

So I went with my mid-2007 Macbook2,1. Audible only under load, and then the fan makes a lot of noise. Or in a completely silent room, with no load whatsoever, there is an annoying whine related to CPU idling.

Also have a PowerMac G5 which under no load is audible but quiet, and under any load sounds nearly like a jet engine.

The quad-core Xeon Dell PowerEdge server is loud enough that I keep it in S3 suspend and just use Wake-on-Lan to turn it on when I need it.

Everything else is about standard desktop PSU/CPU fan quiet. Except for the AppleTV Gen1, now running OpenELEC/XBMC, which is nearly completely silent. Occasionally you can hear the hard drive.

about 3 months ago
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Facebook Is a Plague That'll Burn Out In a Few Years, Says Study

langelgjm Re:Facebook vs. MySpace (338 comments)

What we could see happen is that users abandon the service to connect to real people, and only use it to connect to brands, because the brands are demanding it. Over time (several more years) the brands will likely deprioritize their presence on the network, because people don't engage with them the way they used to.

This is nearly the point I'm at with Facebook. The News Feed (if it's still called that anymore) has gotten less and less interesting, causing me to check it less and less frequently. I'm seeing more ads, more sponsored content (even with AdBlock), and it makes me less of an active user. I actually starting using my Google+ account again about a week ago to see if it was any better.

I think some of the other posters are right... the kids will kill it. Something new and interesting will come along and attract them, and they'll stop using it - or like AIM, never even start. Years ago, everyone had an AIM or ICQ or Yahoo Messenger account. Now I don't know anyone who still uses it. AIM had huge network effects working in its favor, yet it was displaced.

about 3 months ago

Submissions

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When Asked, 90 Percent of Businesses Say IP is "Not Important"

langelgjm langelgjm writes  |  about 4 months ago

langelgjm (860756) writes "In 2009, the National Science Foundation teamed up with the Census Bureau to ask U.S. businesses how important intellectual property was to them. Now, after three years of surveys, the results are in. Astonishingly, it turns out that when asked, 90 percent of businesses say intellectual property is "not important". While some very large businesses and specific sectors indicate that patents, copyrights, and trademarks are important, overall, the figures are shockingly low. What's more, the survey's results have received hardly any press. It appears that formal intellectual property protection is far less important to the vast majority of U.S. businesses than some federal agencies, such as the patent office, are willing to admit."
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How Perl and R reveal the United States' isolation in the TPP negotiations

langelgjm langelgjm writes  |  about 5 months ago

langelgjm (860756) writes "As /. reported, last Thursday Wikileaks released a draft text of the intellectual property chapter in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement. Since then, many commentators have raised alarm about its contents. But what happens when you mix the leaked text together with Perl regular expressions and R's network analysis packages? You get some neat visualizations showing just how isolated the United States is in pushing for extreme copyright and patent laws."
Link to Original Source
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Supreme Court Upholds First Sale Doctrine

langelgjm langelgjm writes  |  1 year,30 days

langelgjm writes "In a closely-watched case, the U.S. Supreme Court today vindicated the first-sale doctrine, declaring that it "applies to copies of a copyrighted work lawfully made abroad." The case involved a Thai graduate student in the U.S. who sold cheap foreign versions of textbooks on eBay without the publisher’s permission. The 6-3 decision has important implications for goods sold online and in discount stores. Justice Stephen Breyer said in his opinion (PDF) that the publisher lost any ability to control what happens to its books after their first sale abroad."
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Apple and Amazon flirt with a market for used digital items

langelgjm langelgjm writes  |  about a year ago

langelgjm (860756) writes "The New York Times reports (registration may be required) that Apple and Amazon are attempting to patent methods of enabling the resale of digital items like e-books and MP3s. Establishing a large marketplace for people to buy and sell used digital items has the potential to benefit consumers enormously, but copyright holders aren't happy. Scott Turow, president of the Authors Guild, "acknowledged it would be good for consumers — 'until there were no more authors anymore.'" But would the resale of digital items really be much different than the resale of physical items? Or is the problem that copyright holders just don't like resale?"
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Rep. Darrell Issa requests public comments on ACTA

langelgjm langelgjm writes  |  more than 2 years ago

langelgjm (860756) writes "After repeated dismissals by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, Congressman Darrell Issa has taken matters into his own hands by posting a copy of ACTA, online and asking for public comments. ACTA, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, is a secretly negotiated multilateral trade treaty with the potential for profoundly affecting the Internet. "ACTA represents as great a threat to an open Internet as SOPA and PIPA and was drafted with even less transparency and input from digital citizens," Issa said. You can comment here."
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NYC to Release Teacher Evaluation Data over Union Protests

langelgjm langelgjm writes  |  more than 2 years ago

langelgjm (860756) writes "Bringing a lengthy legal battle to a close, New York City's Department of Education will today release detailed evaluation reports on individual English and math teachers as a result of a request under public information laws. The city's teachers union has responded with full page ads (PDF warning) decrying the methodology used in the evaluations. The court's decision attempts to balance the public interest in this data against the rights of individual teachers. Across the country, a large number of states are moving to evaluate teachers based on student performance in attempt to raise student achievement in the U.S."
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US Supreme Court upholds removal of works from Pub

langelgjm langelgjm writes  |  more than 2 years ago

langelgjm (860756) writes "While much of the web is focused on the SOPA and PIPA blackout, supporters of the public domain today quietly lost a protracted struggle that began back in 2001.The Supreme Court, in a 6-2 decision, rejected the argument that Congress did not have the power to convey copyright upon works that were already in the public domain. The suit was originally filed to challenge provisions that the U.S. adopted when signing the TRIPs agreement. Justices Breyer and Alito dissented, arguing that conveyed copyright on already existing works defied the logic of copyright law. Justice Kagan recused herself. The text of the opinions is available here (PDF)."
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Report Finds Most Piracy Driven by High Prices

langelgjm langelgjm writes  |  more than 3 years ago

langelgjm (860756) writes "The Social Science Research Council, an independent, non-profit organization, today released a major report on music, film and software piracy in developing economies. The product of three years of work, the authors conclude that piracy is primarily driven by excessively high prices and that anti-piracy education and enforcement efforts have failed. Still, chief editor Joe Karaganis believes that businesses can survive in these high piracy environments.

The report is free to readers in low-income countries, but behind a paywall for certain high-income countries, although the SSRC notes that "For those who must have it for free anyway, you probably know where to look.""

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ACTA not about counterfeiting, official admits

langelgjm langelgjm writes  |  more than 3 years ago

langelgjm (860756) writes "ACTA negotiators met with a limited number of civil society representatives at an informal lunch yesterday, in Washington, D.C. Biggest news from the event? Explicit admission that the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement isn't actually about counterfeiting. According to those present, Luc Devigne, a lead EU negotiator, "asked more than once how you could have an 'IP Enforcement' treaty and not include patents—and dismissed suggestions that ACTA was specifically an 'Anti-Counterfeiting' treaty rather than a broader enforcement treaty." For those unaware, yet another ACTA negotiating round is taking place this week in Washington. It was announced with little fanfare by the United States Trade Representative's office hardly a day before beginning. Even stranger, a South Korean negotiator indicated that some civil society groups in South Korea are pushing for "internet morality" provisions to combat slander. No word yet on whether a new text will be released after the round ends; now would be a good time to call up USTR and demand more transparency."
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Google & Verizon's Real Net Neutrality Proposa

langelgjm langelgjm writes  |  more than 3 years ago

langelgjm (860756) writes "Announced this afternoon in a joint conference call held by CEOs Eric Schmidt and Ivan Seidenberg, Google and Verizon have released a joint net neutrality proposal in the form of a "suggested legislative framework for consideration by lawmakers." This comes on the heels of last week's assertion (and subsequent denial) that Google and Verizon were close to concluding talks that would permit Verizon to prioritize certain content in exchange for pay. A look at the actual text of the framework shows some positive net neutrality principles, but there is also some more curious content: "Wireless broadband" is singled out for exclusion from most of the agreement, and providers would be permitted to prioritize "additional online services... distinguishable in scope and purpose." Public Knowledge, a watchdog group based in Washington, has criticized the agreement for these provisions."
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90+ Experts say ACTA Threatens Public Interest

langelgjm langelgjm writes  |  more than 3 years ago

langelgjm (860756) writes "In the lead up to next week's Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) negotiations in Lucerne, a conference that drew over 90 academics and experts from six continents has released a statement issuing a harsh condemnation of both the substance and process of the agreement.

Held last week at American University's Washington College of Law, the attendees say "We find that the terms of the publicly released draft of ACTA threaten numerous public interests, including every concern specifically disclaimed by negotiators." The "urgent communique" covers more than the usual ACTA topics of interest on Slashdot: in addition to the agreement's effect on the Internet, it also considers the effects on access to medicines, international trade, and developing countries.

Meanwhile, Public Knowledge has an action alert where you can send a note to the White House expressing your opposition to ACTA."

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A Dream for Music, but Labels’ Nightmare

langelgjm langelgjm writes  |  more than 4 years ago

langelgjm (860756) writes "Michael Robertson, a "serial entrepreneur" of MP3.com fame, has made Slashdot news several times before. A recent article in the New York Times (registration may be required) discusses MP3tunes, the successor to MP3.com. MP3tunes allows you to rip your entire CD collection and store it online, whence it can be streamed to computers and various internet-equipped devices, including the iPhone and Android, and even the Playstation and Wii. However, the record industry is in the midst of a lawsuit against Robertson and his service, claiming that he should be paying licensing fees. The industry points to its blessed competitor, Catch Media, as the proper alternative: "Mark Segall, its business development adviser, says the company will soon announce which music companies will use the technology but suggests that consumers will have to pay a "convenience fee" for streaming their music from the Web, comparable to charges at an A.T.M. Won't people balk at paying again to listen to R.E.M. songs they have owned since the 1980s? Catch Media hopes not.""
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Man swallows flash drive; obstruction of justice?

langelgjm langelgjm writes  |  more than 4 years ago

langelgjm (860756) writes "In an incident that is ripe for puns, Florin Necula, a New York City man, swallowed a flash drive in an attempt to deny investigators access to its contents. The ploy worked — at least temporarily. After four days, Necula agreed to allow doctors to remove the drive. Necula is being charged with obstruction of justice; he and three others are suspects are believed to have installed ATM skimmers on several machines in an attempt to obtain bank account information. Should've used TrueCrypt."
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Major ACTA Leak shows divison among US, EU, others

langelgjm langelgjm writes  |  more than 4 years ago

langelgjm (860756) writes "University of Ottawa law professor Michael Geist is reporting that the "biggest ACTA leak yet" is available today. The 44 page document (PDF) goes further than any leaks yet by discussing the individual positions of negotiating countries on particular issues. For example, "On the issue of anti-circumvention legislation and access controls, the U.S. wants it included per the DCMA, but many other countries, including the EU, Japan, and New Zealand do not, noting that the WIPO Internet treaties do not require it." Geist's blog list a number of other topics from the document, including ISP safe harbor and notice-and-takedown. The document reveals significant divisions in negotiating parties, often with the U.S. pushing for greater enforcement measures than other countries are prepared to accept.

In related news, USTR Ambassador Ron Kirk will meet with members of the Senate Finance Committee this week to discuss US trade policy. Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon recently expressed concern over the lack of transparency and possible provisions of ACTA, sending a letter to Kirk about the issue. Any Oregonians should take this opportunity to call Wyden's office and ask him to question Kirk directly about ACTA."

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D.C. detective pulls gun at snowball fight

langelgjm langelgjm writes  |  more than 4 years ago

langelgjm (860756) writes "The Washington Post reports that during Saturday's record-breaking snowfall, hundreds of twenty- and thirty-somethings gathered in a mostly-empty area of the city and proceeded to have an enormous snowball fight. Things were all fun and games until a D.C. detective in plainclothes stopped in the middle of the fight, leaving his Hummer and confronting the crowd with his gun drawn. At first, D.C. police denied the claims, but the incident was caught on tape. The detective is currently on desk duty pending an investigation. The tech angle to all of this? 25-year-old Yousef Ali, a one-time Apple Genius, said he was inspired to start the snowball fight by a friend's Facebook status and used a dormant personal blog and extensive Twitter promotion to expand the participant list: "Basically, I used a lot of my social media promotions techniques... to really push this thing pretty big.""
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Obama Sides With Blind in Copyright Treaty Debate

langelgjm langelgjm writes  |  more than 4 years ago

langelgjm (860756) writes "In an unexpected turn of events, Wired is reporting that the Obama administration has expressed support for a treaty that would permit cross-border sharing of copyrighted works accessible to blind and visually-impaired people. A few days ago, we discussed the nearly unanimous opposition from U.S. industries to any treaty expands copyright limitations and exceptions. A Department of Commerce advisor spoke before the World Intellectual Property Organization today, saying that "We recognize that some in the international copyright community believe that any international consensus on substantive limitations and exceptions to copyright law would weaken international copyright law. The United States does not share that point of view."According to the EFF's Eddan Katz, the move represents a "an historic paradigm shift in international technology policy." At the same time, however, the U.S. representative cautioned that the administration was willing to strengthen international copyright laws in other regards."
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Copyright Industries oppose Treaty for Blind

langelgjm langelgjm writes  |  more than 4 years ago

langelgjm (860756) writes "According to Wired, "A broad swath of American enterprise ranging from major software makers to motion picture and music companies are joining forces to oppose a new international treaty that would make books more accessible to the blind." With the exception of Google, almost every major industry player has expressed disapproval of the treaty, which would allow cross-border sharing of digitized books accessible to the blind and visually impaired. Google's chief copyright counsel believes the industry-wide opposition is mainly due to “opposition to a larger agenda of limitations and exceptions... We believe this is an unproductive approach to solving what is a discrete, long-standing problem that affects a group that needs and deserves the protections of the international community.”"
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Will books be Napsterized?

langelgjm langelgjm writes  |  more than 4 years ago

langelgjm (860756) writes "An article from yesterday's New York Times asks the question, will books be Napsterized? So far, piracy of books has not reached the degree of music or movie piracy, in part due to the lack of good equipment on which to read and enjoy pirated books. The article points to the growing adoption of e-book readers as the publishing industry's newest nemesis. With ever-cheaper ways to conveniently use pirated books, authors and publishers may be facing serious changes ahead. Interestingly, this is something I wrote about three months ago in my journal, where I called the Kindle DX an "iPod for books.""
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Wikipedia slammed for Rorschach test "cheat sh

langelgjm langelgjm writes  |  more than 4 years ago

langelgjm (860756) writes "The New York Times reports that Wikipedia is attracting criticism from many psychologists (registration possibly required) after having published images of the ten standard Rorschach inkblots, along with the most common responses given for each. Swiss psychologist Hermann Rorschach created the inkblot test in the 1920s, and the test is still widely used in the mental health field.

Several vocal psychologists have argued that posting the inkblots is potentially harming scientific research. Bruce L. Smith, president of the International Society of the Rorschach and Projective Methods, says "The more test materials are promulgated widely, the more possibility there is to game it." But James Heilman, an emergency room doctor who originally posted the inkblots on Wikipedia, counters by suggesting that "If someone had previous knowledge of the eye chart, you can go to the car people, and you could recount the chart from memory. You could get into an accident. Should we take it down from Wikipedia?"

Despite the fact that the images themselves are no longer under copyright, a German publishing company has stated that they are considering legal action against Wikimedia."

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Psychologists slam WP's Rorschach "cheat sheat

langelgjm langelgjm writes  |  more than 4 years ago

langelgjm (860756) writes "The New York Times reports that Wikipedia is attracting criticism from many psychologists after having published images of the ten standard Rorschach inkblots, along with the most common responses given for each. Swiss psychologist Hermann Rorschach created the inkblot test in the 1920s, and the test is still widely used in the mental health field.

Several vocal psychologists have argued that posting the inkblots is potentially harming scientific research. Bruce L. Smith, president of the International Society of the Rorschach and Projective Methods, says "The more test materials are promulgated widely, the more possibility there is to game it." But James Heilman, an emergency room doctor who originally posted the inkblots on Wikipedia, counters by suggesting that "If someone had previous knowledge of the eye chart, you can go to the car people, and you could recount the chart from memory. You could get into an accident. Should we take it down from Wikipedia?"

Despite the fact that the images themselves are no longer under copyright, a German publishing company has stated that they are considering legal action against Wikimedia."

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A Slashdotter's thoughts on the Kindle DX

langelgjm langelgjm writes  |  more than 4 years ago

I've been using the Kindle DX for about a week now, and I thought I'd post some initial thoughts about the device. There are plenty of reviews on tech sites out there, so while I will cover some of the typical review ground, I'm also going to include some other, non-review type thoughts for your consideration.

First, why bother with an e-book reader in the first place? The answer depends on the individual. If you read a lot of paperback fiction, a smaller format reader like the Kindle 2 or a Sony model might suit you; digital books seem to cost slightly less than their physical counterparts, though the difference is small enough that it might take you a long time to recoup the cost of the device.

However, if you find yourself having to read a lot of PDFs, an e-book reader becomes more attractive. In academia, journal articles are distributed as PDFs; often professors distribute scanned materials as PDFs; dissertations and book chapters circulate as PDFs. Outside academia, lots of government and industry reports are distributed as PDFs. In other words, there's simply a lot of PDF reading material. Typically, your options for reading this are: 1) read it on a computer screen, or 2) print it out and read it. Option 1 becomes tiring after about 10 pages, and also requires having a computer. Option 2 costs time and money, and either results in a significant amount of paper waste, or a lot of paper that needs to be catalogued and stored somewhere.

Enter the e-book reader. E-ink displays are not backlit, are fairly glare-free, and provide a contrast comparable to a newspaper. This means, for example, that they can be read outside in direct sunlight (try that with a laptop). Eye fatigue is no longer an issue (I've read about 500 paper-back size pages on the DX so far without any issue); waste is avoided; storage and cataloguing are made infinitely easier.

Second, why the Kindle DX? Quite simply because it is a large-format, (relatively) high-resolution reader. The DX's screen measures 9.7" diagonally, with a resolution of 824 x 1200. Compare this with the typical small-format e-book reader, which sports a 6" screen, and a 600 x 800 resolution. The only products I am aware of that compete with the DX in screen size and resolution are manufactured by iRex; they appear to be superior feature-wise, but they are also significantly more expensive, and there are numerous complaints about iRex's products and support (or at least enough to make one very nervous about plopping down the cash - see the iRex fora for details.). While the DX is not cheap, iRex's products range from EU 600 to EU 700. Furthermore, the DX is Amazon's first Kindle to natively support PDFs. In this respect, Amazon is somewhat late to the game; competing devices such as Sony's PRS-505 have offered native PDF support for about a year already.

The DX's PDF rendering is, frankly, superb. I have viewed about a hundred documents from various sources and distiller versions, and so far, only one has rendered improperly, and even that was only a font issue (it was a local government report, so I'm not confident of the quality of the original document, either). Images look surprisingly good, despite being shown in a mere 16 shades of gray. Anything other than rendering, however, is hit-or-miss. Full-text searching depends on whether the original document contains searchable text, of course. While the screen is large enough to mostly obviate the need for zooming, it is unfortunate that the only way to enlarge the size of a PDF is to rotate the DX to landscape mode, and even this only seems to work with about 75% of the documents I have. Links within PDFs do not function. In keeping with the nature of PDFs, text size cannot be automatically adjusted. In spite of these flaws, for me, the PDF rendering is the killer feature. Journal articles, many of which are printed on less than letter size paper in the first place, fit perfectly on the DX's screen.

Another touted feature of the DX (as well as other Kindles) is Sprint's 3G Whispernet service. This essentially functions as a free internet connection, primarily designed to allow you to browse and purchase selections from the Amazon Kindle store; however, the DX also includes a basic web browser that is fairly capable. I have used it to read Slashdot and the New York Times, search Wikipedia and Google Maps, and to browse Project Gutenberg. The latter is particularly exciting; the DX can directly download certain file formats, such as the MOBI format e-books offered by Project Gutenberg, through the Whispernet service. All this comes with the caveat that Amazon reserves the right at any time to change the terms of service regarding Whispernet. I can only hope that DX users do not abuse the service and cause Amazon to begin charging for its use.

Many of you will have heard of the debates over the Kindle 2 and DX's text-to-speech feature, which allows the device to read documents aloud. Suffice it to say that I do not anticipate using this feature much, and don't feel like discussing the issues of copyright and accessibility raised by publisher-imposed limitations on the feature (at least not in this review). The DX can play MP3 files, but I find this also to be mostly a novelty, since you cannot feasibly control the order in which they are played. If this feature were improved, the DX might be useful for people who wish to listen to music while reading sheet music (and sheet music looks pretty good on here, though it's probably a bit too small to be used while playing).

The DX includes a dictionary which will be extensive enough for most users. Other features include the ability to insert bookmarks and various annotations. Excerpts can also be "clipped" and saved to a file which can be retrieved when the DX is attached to a computer. When the DX is attached, it functions as a simple USB mass storage device, meaning it is essentially platform independent. No special software or drivers are required (or available). These annotation features appear to be fairly rudimentary, and the tiny chiclet-style keys force me to emphasize that the DX cannot function as a note-taking device.

Flaws include a total lack of organizational ability, which Amazon, in perennial mulishness, refuses to address. The solution would be a firmware update that allows the DX to browse the directory structure. One of their developers could fix this in an afternoon, but instead they have chosen to ignore repeated requests, a fact which is costing them sales (seriously - I read one review where the professor returned the DX because of the lack of folders). My less-than-ideal solution involves manually renaming files with tags, which are then alphabetically sorted and can be searched.

In short, the DX is first and foremost a reader. It does this job well, and well enough that someone who does a good deal of large-format or PDF reading may be able to justify its cost.

Now to other thoughts. I can sum these up simply: the DX is an iPod for books.

Think carefully about what that means. What are most people's iPods filled with? We'll not kid ourselves: pirated music. Of course pirated books and texts have been on the Internet for years, long before the MP3 reached its zenith. But just as the iPod made listening to those MP3s simple and enjoyable, to really enjoy a pirated book, you'll need an e-book reader, unless you want to read on the computer or print it out. Now, even e-book readers have been around a while; however, there are a variety of formats, and conversion between them is not always simple. PDF, on the other hand, is an extremely common and widely used format. This means that one could load up their DX with hundreds of pirated PDF books, all in one portable, simple to use package.

I won't be bold enough to call this a prediction, but rather a possibility: with the increasing adoption of e-book readers, particularly those capable of reading PDFs, we might witness digital book piracy on a much wider scale than before. I doubt it will ever reach the levels of music piracy, since books require a much larger investment of time to digest, but I do think it will increase markedly. The interesting thing about this is that while music piracy seems to cluster around recent and highly popular works, I don't think this will be as much the case with book piracy. Don't get me wrong; you can find all of J. K. Rowling's or Stephanie Meyer's works on The Pirate Bay, but you can also find the works of Isaac Asimov and Ayn Rand. Slightly older books such as the latter, despite not being classics of all time, still elicit continued interest. So, when book piracy increases, sure, we'll see this year's bestsellers being shared, but we'll also see a lot more books published between 1923 and 1980 being shared than we see music from that time. This also means that we'll see a lot of books that, while still under copyright, were written by authors who are now dead. And if the copyright debate turns toward digital book piracy with even partially the same furor it has over music piracy, it's going to be a lot harder to convince people to feel bad about violating the copyrights of dead authors.

If there are any Star Trek fans reading this, you'll recall the PADD - an e-book like device ubiquitous enough to be carried in stacks, lent to friends, and forgotten carelessly. The DX is the first step in that direction. Like all consumer electronics, the price will drop eventually (remember how expensive the first VCRs and DVD players were?). And the idea of having free, wireless access anywhere in the U.S. to a sizable library of public domain works at Project Gutenberg is pretty inspiring. Imagine expanding that idea so that anyone with an e-book reader had access to a universal library of books. It'll be possible... let's hope that copyright doesn't stand in the way.

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Meta: Total Number of Comments?

langelgjm langelgjm writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Before all the changes to /.'s system, user's comment pages used to display the last 24 comments that had been posted (subscribers could see more). On that page, there was a heading that read "User's last 24 of X comments", where X was the total number of comments that the user had ever posted under that nick.

However, this disappeared a while ago, and as far as I can tell, there is now no way to ascertain the total number of comments that a user has posted. This is mildly annoying, because it was an interesting way to see how much someone has participated in discussions over their /. lifetime.

Does anyone know where/how to find this information? I e-mailed help one time and got a response, but I don't think they understood what I was asking, as they simply directed me to the user comment page.

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