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Comments

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Pay Less If You're a Nice Person: Valve's Freemium Model For DOTA 2

mandelbr0t Re:I like this (316 comments)

Ah yes, the "I'm better than you because I have thick skin" argument. True, life is better if you're a bit resilient, and it's unreasonable to expect that everyone will play nice. Your language suggests that you have an equally strong reaction to people who want a functional and supportive community. What about that bothers you? I suspect that you, like any other human, have a desire to belong. Since people don't want to be around you (I can't imagine why), you adopt this anti-social attitude and delude yourself into thinking you're a better person for it.

I'm quite capable of dealing with people like you, and I don't even have to ignore you. I don't resort to name-calling or promoting myself at the expense of others. As a result, I get along with people, and get the sense of community I need. You might want to try some steps in that direction, before you kill yourself or someone else.

more than 2 years ago
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1366x768 Monitors Top 1024x768 For the First Time

mandelbr0t Re:Who cares? (394 comments)

I have bills to pay and want something for work

I couldn't imagine working in an IDE without widescreen now. Sure, it's only 1360x768, but it's plenty clear on a 32" HDTV.

more than 2 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: Best Book For 11-Year-Old Who Wants To Teach Himself To Program?

mandelbr0t Re:Python (525 comments)

Also being a 'seasoned' developer I'm wondering why not a 'real' language like C as opposed to scripting languages

I'd tend to agree with this. I was learning x86 assembly when I was 12. This is an age where a child can learn a lot, and school won't teach you about a lot of the "under-the-hood" stuff. Actually managing memory and understanding how a computer works at a bare-metal level is a skill that will give you a leg-up later in life. In all likelihood, he won't use C/C++ in the industry, but it is easy to learn managed languages like Java and C# once you learn C. C is all about efficiency, something that a lot of Java programmers could stand to know a little better.

more than 2 years ago
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The Nerdiest Police Video you will ever see.

mandelbr0t I've dealt with cops like this (2 comments)

It seems like he is being harassed because of his background, but the cop does not actually break the law. Using a canine to inspect the car is looking for things in plain sight. And while the video talks about false positives from the dog, the courts accept that a K-9 officer's testimony that a dog has found something is legitimate. Convincing a judge that the officer behaved inappropriately will be expensive, and likely ineffective. Unless the officer has a record of harassment, his testimony will always trump that of a citizen. This is the way courts have been for some time, and has nothing to do with "laws that enable trampling of people's rights". Still, it might be worth going to court just to put the incident on record so that the next time someone has a problem with this same officer, it might be easier to prove a case of harassment.

more than 2 years ago
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Software Patents Not So Abstract When the Lawsuits Hit Home

mandelbr0t Prior Art Possibilities (180 comments)

A little digging has shown that the plaintiff has a claim on re-definable keyboards, as they relate to assistive technology. However, the idea of remapping keyboards definitely pre-dates their 1995 patent claim (which said nothing about speech synthesis, BTW). Two possibilities that spring to mind are HP calculators, which would have differing keyboard layouts depending on the mode that was set. Thus, multiple symbols could be applied to the same key. This covers the "providing access to higher-level keyboards" part. Another possibility is a synthesizer. Once again, setting modes could change the functions of many keys on the device. Come to think of it, even a pipe organ could fall into this category. Depending on the stops pulled (which could be labelled with a symbol), the organ could take on different voices. Arguably, each voice could be considered a different higher-level keyboard.

Is the patent dead obvious? I suppose not. I hope some better researchers are able to come up with a more concrete example to be used against the plaintiff. I'd hate to see such a useful app die over money. I think the key here is to find prior art on the first patent. The second patent is simply the first patent "as it applies" to speech synthesis.

more than 2 years ago
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Facebook Asserts Trademark On "Book" In New User Agreement

mandelbr0t Re:woah (197 comments)

they want to have an easier time fighting copycats like, say, Mugbook or Assbook or Pornbook

Then maybe they should have picked a more unique name. Branding is, after all, a part of marketing. The lawyers should have considered this when determining their brand.

more than 2 years ago
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Teacher Suspended For Reading Ender's Game To Students

mandelbr0t Re:Back to the Future (1054 comments)

Look on the bright side... At least people are learning to use Google.

more than 2 years ago
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New Programming Languages Come From Designers

mandelbr0t Re:.my.cnf on shared web hosting (435 comments)

As is always the case with shared web hosting vs. VPS, you will have to decide how much control you want over your website. The reason shared web hosting is so cheap is that someone else does the system administration. VPS is not really more expensive, and gives you full control over the site (including direct access to the filesystem). Bottom line: do research to ensure you get the hosting option that meets your needs.

more than 2 years ago
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New Programming Languages Come From Designers

mandelbr0t Re:How to keep DB passwords secret? (435 comments)

Easy. Create an account (or use the webserver's account) for the PHP program and store credentials in $HOME/.my.cnf. Ensure .my.cnf is only readable by the program's account.

more than 2 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: Best Practices For Maintaining IT Policy In K-12 Public Education?

mandelbr0t Re:You don't. (208 comments)

This story has a lot of valuable lessons to be learned. The first lesson, I think, that you can take from your experience is that you are wholly unqualified to deal with the political and management issues involved. Therefore, do not involve yourself in management or politics. The (non-technical) suggestions given have all involved either an upward appeal to authority, or coercive measures. These will only make matters worse for you. If you want to keep your job, and think that you actually have a chance to make things work, ingratiate yourself to some people who can support you if things go south. I doubt very much that you are being deliberately set up as a fall guy. The school, after all, has a need to stay somewhat technologically relevant, but they're doing it on increasingly less money.

I'm guessing you went into education because you want to make a difference. Some people I know did as well, and they all tell the same story. Long, hard hours with very little acknowledgement. I would guess that's a reality of education these days. With a budget that's always short on funds, management will squeeze every last drop of effort from every employee. So, work under the assumption that the people who hold the purse strings are under at least as much pressure as you are. Maybe it's not true, but there's nothing you can do about it except quit.

Off the top of my head, the best people to get on your side are teachers and students. While you can't solve everything all at once, perhaps there are some small problems you can solve for specific people. And, while someone joked about making network maintenance an elective, there's probably some truth to it. I volunteered to help out the sole network admin when I was in high school. Perhaps some bright students would be willing to help out in exchange for some tutoring. The important thing is that some people know who you are and what you do, and can commiserate since your job is just as difficult as theirs. If it's important to you, hang in there. If it's not, then it's probably time to look for something less stressful.

more than 2 years ago
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Journalist Arrested For Tweet Deported to Saudi Arabia

mandelbr0t Re:A second just Justice.... Please (604 comments)

I'm surprised that Interpol allows membership from nations that would so badly abuse human rights and civil liberties. I've always considered Interpol "one of the good guys". I guess not.

more than 2 years ago
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How To Get Developers To Document Code

mandelbr0t Re:design document vs. documenting source code? (545 comments)

I used to lean toward the second camp, but now I lean toward the first camp :)

Glad to hear it. I'm the first to admit that I don't always document well enough, but I'm a build-it-then-fix-it kind of guy. I've been at it long enough to get an extensible architecture off the ground right away. I'd work better with someone that's a get-it-right-the-first-time kind of guy telling me what I'm doing wrong, though.

more than 2 years ago
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How To Get Developers To Document Code

mandelbr0t Re:Measuring readability (545 comments)

The developer can add comments, or rename variables, or restructure the code to make it clearer, but the end result should be readable code with fewer bugs (bugs live in hard-to-understand code, simply adding some intermediate variables to a complex formula can make them go away)

"Don't get suckered by the comments -- they can be terribly misleading. Debug only code." -- Dave Storer

This is why I always add my documentation at the end. A good programmer knows how to use his debugger. Properly named variables and methods will allow you to step through a program until you understand how it works. Once your understanding is clear, and you are quite certain that the code is good enough for somebody else, add enough documentation to aid other programmers in using or maintaining your code. The only way to know how much is needed is through the code review. The only exception I can think of to this process is when releasing the source code to the general public or to a client for their own maintenance. Since you don't usually have a code review with them, it's best to go for overkill. A pain sometimes, but a necessary part of a complete product.

more than 2 years ago
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Reddit Turning SOPA "Blackout" Into a "Learn-In"

mandelbr0t Re:SOPA (241 comments)

Just punch it into a calculator with base conversion. Wikipedia has an article about Hexadecimal.

more than 2 years ago
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Music Industry Sues Irish Government For Piracy

mandelbr0t Causal Link (341 comments)

The crux of the case will lie in proving that there is a causal link between the lack of laws requiring ISPs to block websites, and the damages claimed. The precedent is Francovich v. Italy. However, given that the judge in a ruling against British Telecom forcing them to use Cleanfeed to block access to websites like Newzbin and TPB acknowledge that tools to circumvent the system were available. And, in fact, Newzbin has released a client allowing access to their website despite the Cleanfeed block. The same software allows access to TPB. It relies on both encryption and the TOR network. Newzbin told BBC news that 93.5% of UK users have downloaded their Cleanfeed circumvention software. This flies in the face of the judge's comment that "Even assuming that they all have the ability to acquire [the means to circumvent Cleanfeed], it does not follow that they will all wish to expend the time and effort required."

93.5% of UK Newzbin users may not be "all" people in the UK who want to use file sharing networks, but it certainly means that establishing the causal link between lack of ISP blocking remedies and damages from file sharing will be difficult. People want access to those files, and Cleanfeed has proven largely ineffective at stopping two of the main sites involved in sharing. It should also be noted that these sites are not the actual hosters of the allegedly damaging files; they are merely portals to peer-to-peer networks that have other access methods available (e.g. DHT on BitTorrent). Again, the claim that blocking these websites would prevent financial damage is rather dubious.

more than 2 years ago
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Reddit Turning SOPA "Blackout" Into a "Learn-In"

mandelbr0t Re:SOPA (241 comments)

3259560367 = 0xc2476b0f = 194.71.107.15

more than 2 years ago
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Reddit Turning SOPA "Blackout" Into a "Learn-In"

mandelbr0t Re:When can we get Reddit's moderation system on / (241 comments)

protip: If you're going to karma-whore, you might try being less abrasive. This isn't Reddit, and we're glad that it's not. If you don't like it here, then leave. No one will miss you.

more than 2 years ago
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5th Edition of Dungeons & Dragons Announced

mandelbr0t Re:Switched to Pathfinder? (309 comments)

I much prefer Pathfinder. 4th ed. removed too many things and made a single-page character sheet extremely difficult. I don't like the attempt to make D & D more "video-gamey". Our D & D group runs a Pathfinder/d20 Modern mix that's quite enjoyable. I have no intention of moving away from 3.5-compatible source material (just like the 1st ed. people have no need of moving away from the one they learned.)

more than 2 years ago

Submissions

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Canadian Conservatives to revisit Bill C-61

mandelbr0t mandelbr0t writes  |  more than 4 years ago

mandelbr0t (1015855) writes "The Canadian Conservative government is preparing to reintroduce amended copyright legislation on Thursday. Most sources say that the proposed legislation is very similar to Bill C-61, generally dubbed the "Canadian DMCA". It still includes definitions of "technological protections" and criminalizes "circumvention" of those protections. Bill C-61 died in summer of 2008, facing massive opposition from the Canadian public. Once again, it's time for Canadians to get politically active. I recommend these readings to get you started.ORC ran a large campaign with the last attempt, and will likely be updated soon with the new proposed legislation. They have a lot of resources for getting involved.

As with Bill C-61, the Conservative government has launched a campaign of misinformation to attempt to force the law down our throat. Industry Minister Tony Clement is trying to convince people that "format shifting" is currently illegal. Of course, it is not actually criminal, and enforcement of private infringement, as always, is prevented by the fact that massive invasion of privacy would have to occur. Second, Mr. Clement is claiming that this law is necessary to bring Canada into line with the WIPO Treaty. The above readings discredit WIPO altogether. Furthermore, the two articles that are being referred to are Articles 11 and 12. Note the use of the phrase "effective technological measure" and the absence of any criminality requirement. This legislation is not necessary to provide amended copyright law that is consistent with the WIPO treaty, and will hopefully die an uneventful death, to be buried for eternity."

Link to Original Source

Journals

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Canadian Mental Health Awareness Week a Flop

mandelbr0t mandelbr0t writes  |  more than 2 years ago

October 2nd to 8th is Canadian Mental Health Awareness Week. It doesn't seem to be making much of an impact though. Calgarians are more worried about the fact that some bike lanes on a busy thoroughfare to downtown are making them late for work. Typical, self-absorbed middle class suburbanites, ignoring the fact that people who slip through the cracks ultimately end up being jailed or living on the street. Do these people not have children of their own? What would happen if mental health issues affected someone they knew? I think they'd stop worrying about finding a different route into downtown, and start worrying about the fact that the province of Alberta provides absolutely no funding outside of acute care. By that time, it is too late.

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Alison Redford is Alberta's New Premier

mandelbr0t mandelbr0t writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Alison Redford won a surprise victory in Alberta's leadership race. She is now the first female premier of Alberta. Her platform is quite moderate, and includes overhauling the Tory caucus, increasing education and social services spending, and working to keep quality health care available to all Albertans. Redford has shown true grit, dealing with the death of her mother during the campaign. I wish her the best of luck in her new leadership role, and hope that she succeeds in changing the Tory "old-boys club" image.

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Canada signs ACTA

mandelbr0t mandelbr0t writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Canada ratified ACTA this weekend. The majority Tory government will pass Bill C-32 soon as well, and Canada will have a DMCA-like law. All that remains is to see if C-32 is constitutional. Law professors such as Michael Geist have put forth arguments that granting a device a right that the device's owner does not have is not constitutional. However, someone is going to have to get arrested under the new law before the Supreme Court will hear any such challenge. Others have put forth arguments about the expense and difficulty of enforcement. I can only hope that the new law is enforced in a reasonable manner -- it is written in such a way that abuses that have been seen in the US are possible here as well.

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The Fall lineup is here...and so are the MAFIAA

mandelbr0t mandelbr0t writes  |  more than 2 years ago

The CBS fall lineup is in full swing, beginning last night with the season premiere of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. Once again, CBS is resorting to dirty tactics to ensure that they maintain absolute distribution control (bwhahahaha). Never mind that Netflix was popular and a good platform to make some money. I guess we all now rely on forward thinkers like EZTV and Icefilms to provide what the commercial services will not. Netflix and all of the television studios can rot in hell. I'm willing to pay for my television like anyone else, but these huge outfits with tons of money would rather spend it forcing people to use their distribution channels instead of providing what people want and increasing their market share. FUCK THE MAFIAA.

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Canadian Web Surveillance Plan Under Scrutiny

mandelbr0t mandelbr0t writes  |  more than 3 years ago

The Conservative party is proposing legislation to increase government Internet surveillance in Canada. This legislation has been rolled up with a number of other crime bills that failed during Harper's minority government, including providing funds to build new jails. Specifically, the surveillance would no longer require a warrant, and all Internet providers would be forced to identify the owner of an IP address or device on its network simply for the asking. It would also require all network providers to allow for real time surveillance of all users of an ISP's service. In addition to probably passing the costs of these ridiculous measures onto the consumer, this legislation fails on many counts.

First, the network surveillance components have not even been discussed in Parliament yet. Stephen Harper clearly wants to pass this legislation without anybody finding out. Second, this legislation is unconsitutional, denying people their right to due diligence. If the courts do not review requests for surveillance, then we are trusting increasingly corrupt Canadian police forces to have sound judgement in when to invoke their right to "lawful access". Finally, the proposed legislation is ineffective. It is based on fearmongering rather than improved ability to track down anonymous cyber-criminals who are skilled at hiding their tracks and utilizing the network resources of others.

Harper's majority government represents the beginning of the end of civil freedom in Canada. This crime bill is only the tip of the iceberg.

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Sony Breaches Show Weaknesses at Executive Levels

mandelbr0t mandelbr0t writes  |  more than 3 years ago

1999 is calling. They want their "we don't need no steekin' security" Internet back. At what point do people realize that the people who manage large computer networks need to be competent? Let me put this in the simplest possible terms: it is a bad state of affairs when the bulk of technical ability and know-how is lost in the ether. Bad things happen, and huge numbers of people are affected. This "hire-a-scapegoat" IT industry crap has to stop. The real people to blame are the CxOs who pull down the huge salaries and lobby politicians to change laws to allow for more government snooping.

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Harper Wins Majority Government

mandelbr0t mandelbr0t writes  |  more than 3 years ago

I didn't get the government I wanted. It looks like most people are willing to look past the ethical issues of Canadian conservatism. I am feeling old, tired and despondent. The next time they need a body for Tyburn, it might be mine.

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Osama bin Laden killed by American troops

mandelbr0t mandelbr0t writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Nearly a decade after "9/11", US troops located and killed Osama bin Laden last night, May 1st. US President Barack Obama said that this killing shows that America will get justice, no matter what the cost. Others say that this is a lesson to crazies out there that they won't get away with terrorism. At any rate, I don't think that anyone could argue that America has symbolically won the "War on Terror".

So let's add up the cost. American dollar now worth less than Canadian dollar. American debt nearly at its Congressional decided ceiling of US$14.3T. 50% of people make less than $8.83/hr. (and probably don't work full-time). And thousands upon thousands dead, the civilian casualties unknown.

To me, what this says is that America will seek revenge no matter the cost to its own people. Perhaps American people were willing to bear the cost. I don't know. All I know is that war is not the solution to any global problem. Nor torture or murder. If we truly wish to destroy Osama bin Laden, we must also be better than him or we will become monsters as we claim he was.

I hope that bin Laden's death brings peace to Americans, and sates their appetite for revenge. I also hope every American looks into his heart and asks himself if there was a better way, a way to be an example the world can be proud of. I have no doubt that killing bin Laden was a solution, but it is not an example I am in any hurry to follow.

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The North American Budget Crisis

mandelbr0t mandelbr0t writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Yesterday, the American government avoided a complete shutdown at the 11th hour by finding an additional $38B in spending cuts. Now Canadian Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff is claiming that Stephen Harper's proposed budget is $11B short. It's becoming clear that there's a real budget crisis in North America. Perhaps it's time to stop profiteering and end all of this military action that we clearly can't afford.

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TELUS is feeling nostalagic

mandelbr0t mandelbr0t writes  |  more than 3 years ago

TELUS announced today that they were resurrecting Clearnet to compete with low-priced rivals in BC and Alberta. Sounds like the Tech bubble is about to burst again. I'm glad I was nowhere near it this time...

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Big Telecom to become election issue?

mandelbr0t mandelbr0t writes  |  more than 3 years ago

OpenMedia.ca has become the commoner's lobbyist voice against the CRTC and Big Telecom. The latest CRTC directive, to impose some sort of usage based billing on all Canadian Internet customers through their wholesale pricing is nothing more than a monopolistic price gouge. Through our support of Stop the Meter, we have gained ground against the CRTC. They have backed off UBB in favour of a different model. However, we've not won yet. Elections in Alberta and Canada allow us to choose MPs and MLAs who will see the wisdom in the OpenMedia position, and ignore the wealthy media conglomerates lobbying for legal restrictions on our Internet usage. If you've not signed up for the newsletter, or made a donation, please visit Stop the Meter and make your contribution today.

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Calgary's loss of Planning Control

mandelbr0t mandelbr0t writes  |  more than 3 years ago

The elephant in the room in the Calgary Land Use Planning division is the fact that nothing is secret any more. Developers and real estate agents (including the city's own agents) have access to engineering reviews that identify land which will be sold as part of a development agreement. Obviously, having this kind of foresight can make one very rich. But, there's an unexpected downside to this gravy train: the developers can do the same thing and force the free market to be the primary planning control, rather than the City's left-leaning "Growth Philosophy", which is a project that has been ongoing for nearly 5 years now. Clearly this was a case of red tape being cut. However, without a coherent growth management strategy, the City gives its planning control away to the developer. Instead of the government enforcing development rules, the developers tell the government what they want, and the government will bend the rules accordingly. Of course, some of that rule bending has become public knowledge, and will likely continue until someone with a brain decides that electronic records management is a real issue, and assigns someone with talent and a solid background to direct such a project. Until then, it seems it's open season on confidential City of Calgary documents.

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Harper Government in contempt of Parliament

mandelbr0t mandelbr0t writes  |  more than 3 years ago

The Harper government is now officially the first Canadian government to be found in contempt of parliament. Ignatieff is pushing his ethics and accountability platform very strongly. The Conservative election strategy seems to involve playing on the anti-American sentiments of late and attacking Ignatieff's American citizenship, and connection to Harvard University. They are also campaigning to bolster the economy, though most signs out here in Alberta are that the economy is already improving.

While I've probably been one of the more vocal anti-American voices, I realize that not all Americans are the same, and that democracy has been a real problem for the better part of a decade. Despite Ignatieff's citizenship, he shows that he is a competent leader, and he does stand for the cancellation of the F-35 contract. Ethics and accountability should be big issues for Canadians. If we continue to allow democracy to erode, then we are no better than those we condemn as terrorists.

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No Democracy in Calgary

mandelbr0t mandelbr0t writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Democracy has quietly vanished in Calgary, replaced by the covert organizations of a police state. calgaryherald.com, supposedly a social media site allowing comments on most articles, has gone into censorship overdrive. At least three articles I have commented on have disappeared into the morass, nothing left linking to them. Other articles are closed completely to commenting. Articles relating to the Calgary police, or law and order in general do not allow comments. Articles relating to foreign wars do not allow comments. I have already been put through one kangaroo court in an attempt to silence me. I half expect to be murdered every day until this foolish polarization between law and chaos ends. Who could look at the world today and claim that any lawful authority has jurisdiction? There is naught but chaos until a reasonable approach to order is presented. No more wars, censorship, terrorist blacklists, unlawful combat, etc. We cannot simultaneously prevent and prepare for war, and all our elected leaders do is prepare. In most cases, in direct opposition to the wishes of the people who put them there. I'm tired of being told what the news is supposed to be and how things are supposed to end. It's time for American business interests to stop meddling and give the average citizen their life back.

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A Monster goes Free

mandelbr0t mandelbr0t writes  |  more than 3 years ago

It has finally happened. The polarization between police and citizen has become so marked that a monster is going free. His name is James Louie, and today, a forensic psychologist declared that he meets the criteria for Not Criminially Responsible (more or less the same as an insanity plea in the US). This testimony will almost certainly move the jury to find Mr. Louie NCR, and he will not spend any time in jail as a result. His crimes are horrific, but preventable. This American-style justice that has pervaded Alberta is based upon persecution and unwarranted invasions of privacy, as well as misuse of process. Complaints to responsible parties go unanswered, save for the denial of any political interference. Here, at last, is the justice Alberta deserves. A monster goes free, 2 children are dead, and a woman is terrified for many years to come. It is time for the police to admit fault and take a different approach. Police Chief Rick Hanson has proposed "safe jails" where mental illness and addictions are considered before the tag "criminal" is applied and left with one for the rest of their life. It's high time the police started acting instead of talking. We do not want another Mr. Louie.

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Alberta Employment Standards extends to government

mandelbr0t mandelbr0t writes  |  more than 3 years ago

My source at the City of Calgary writes in to say that the City is like every other corporation in this province: a miserable and oppressive place dominated by a total lack of human values, and a negligence of worker safety and comfort. Workers who cause problems go unnoticed, while their victims or the general public are left to deal with their negativity. No wonder this province has such a miserable workplace safety record -- those responsible for it ignore problems in their own house. In most cases, they even have a hypocritical "no tolerance for discrimmination" or some-such policy that is used only to identify people who insist on their fundamental human rights and dignity. Those people are summarily tortured and dismissed. Just one more reason hackers turn to crime and gangs to make a living. Their very existence precludes them having a chance.

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Hactivism still warranted

mandelbr0t mandelbr0t writes  |  more than 3 years ago

It's the calm before the storm. No one talks about Julian Assange any more, public officials (in Canada, at least) pay lip service to more social responsibility. In general, the media creates the impression that the polarization caused by WikiLeaks and the American government's cry for Julian Assange's execution for espionage is history. In reality, however, the unswerving law-and-order agenda is preparing to rear its ugly head, to profile people according to their sins, and find a reason to throw more people in jail.

But let's be real. The people who were persecuted for WikiLeaks are still being persecuted. The American soldier who communicated with Assange is still being held in solitary confinement, every day his very being under attack. The British government is preparing to sell Assange back to the Americans. In short, we need another Assange. We need someone to lift the veil on the dirty investigations that are being done, and the witches that are being burned to satisfy current governments' lust for power. There are so many innocent people being persecuted in the name of the War on Drugs and the War on Terror. I see no changes on the horizon. I see no need for piracy and all the associated anonymous activity to stop. The hackers kicked ass in the 90s. They'll kick ass again, because politicians were, and still are, idiots. Let's make 2011 the Year of the Pirate! Yarrr!

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Yeah, we really needed those downtown Calgary patrols...

mandelbr0t mandelbr0t writes  |  about 4 years ago

It's nice to see the city's pre-approved police budget is being put to some use, harassing protesters in front of City Hall. I sat and watched for a while to see what unbelievable excuse they would come up with for sending this guy packing. It was a quiet, legal protest. In fact, he even stood far enough back from the curb to avoid violating the sign bylaw. We obviously don't need the downtown patrols if they have nothing better to do than give the nearest nutcase a hard time. CPS - Standing Up for Your Freedom of Speech. Thanks guys, I don't know what I'd do without you.

Check out the photo.

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The Cost of Proprietary Government eSolutions

mandelbr0t mandelbr0t writes  |  about 4 years ago

The Calgary Herald reports that a project to move Alberta to electronic health records will cost over CDN$1.4B. The project, which started in 1999 has suffered from "poor project management as well as shoddy oversight of users accessing sensitive patient information." The project has still not been completed, and neither the final delivery date, nor cost to taxpayers is known. And, Canada is now falling behind other governments in making these electronic health records available to institutions, allowing for increased efficiency in patient care. According to the Calgary Herald, Australia, Norway, New Zealand, the UK and the Netherlands have all implemented electronic patient records to the point where over 95% of doctors use them. In Canada and the United States, that number is less than 50%. Not surprisingly, it appears that at least the user interface component will be developed for Microsoft Windows, and that security of these Windows systems is being managed directly by the doctors, who are not generally certified IT security professionals (this last statement based on my observations over the last few years during patient visits).

Though the article does not specifically mention technologies, many Slashdot readers will recognize the Microsoft standard of poor project management and shoddy oversight of users accessing sensitive information. I strongly suspect that the reason the other countries named in the article have had more success with implemention of electronic patient records is that they are using open source alternatives, and hiring consultants who have not been corrupted by Microsoft's greed. It is clear that many governments in Canada have been seduced by the "simplicity" of Microsoft due to their lack of technical understanding, to the tune of billions of taxpayer dollars. I hope that public knowledge of the extravagant spending on these ineffective eSolutions lead to better processes surrounding awarding of government contracts, and more accountability for overspending and deadlines, as well as ensuring that a governement remains vendor-neutral.

It is the vendor neutrality part that does not seem to be considered when awarding government contracts. Were government officials more aware of the true cost of a commitment to Microsoft technologies, it is likely that less would be awarded, at least assuming that they haven't been bribed already. Far too many projects are approved without analyzing the long-run commitment to the vendor who provided the solution, and are then forced to buy a myriad of support and maintenance contracts, consultants, licensing fees, upgrade costs and development costs with no real results. In other words, good money after bad. I no longer wish to live in a jurisdiction who will gladly hand over my tax dollars to Microsoft. If Microsoft is now being dictated by the Alberta government, it is time to get the hell out of Alberta. This is not something I take lightly; I have waited for years for positive progress, but it is all negative. Microsoft has infiltrated into Alberta government, and municipalities will follow suit quickly. I will not work in that mismanaged environment, and I will go elsewhere to find an environment that has not yet been corrupted.

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Aging City of Calgary Network Infrastructure

mandelbr0t mandelbr0t writes  |  more than 4 years ago

My previous entry mentioned the creation of the new IIS business unit at the City of Calgary. Mayday marked their first spectacular failure. My source reports rumors that the tax bill print run failed twice over the period from 30 April until 5 May. Apparently, the entire tax database needs to be put into read-only mode for the entire duration of the printing of over 200,000 tax bills. This was done on Friday. The first run failed on Sunday, leaving the tax database in read-only mode at start-of-business Monday. The second attempt failed, with an Out-of-Memory error. Read-write access was restored only at end-of-business Wednesday. At twenty City employees had work backlogged as they require read-write access to do their work. They were delegated to following up on the backlog by contacting each and every customer affected, and advising them that their request would be delayed. Of course, now that read-write access is restored, those twenty employees will have to go through each and every request again, to do the work they should have been able to do in the first place. Minimum total cost to the taxpayers: 20 employees x $200/day (guessing) = $4,000. Maximum could possibly be 3 to 4 times that.

An out-of-memory error is a thing of the past (or a sign of really bad programming). Are CoC servers really that old? Is the processing of 220,000 tax records such an encumbrance to them that they require 5 full days to make it happen? I hope this is not a sign of things to come. If every single mistake from IIS has this much of an effect on taxpayer cost, perhaps the new business unit was a mistake. My bad feeling has gotten much worse; chaos will reign soon if they can't make their aging infrastructure reliable.

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