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Which Shipping Company Is Kindest To Your Packages?

seanthenerd Re:Shock Watch indicators help. (480 comments)

Nice! Is it possible to get just the stickers, for cheaper? :)

more than 4 years ago

TheSpaceGame — Design Your Route To Jupiter

seanthenerd While we're on the topic... Orbiter (76 comments)

Check out Orbiter - without a doubt the most realistic (and incredible) space flight simulator around. My little brother has basically taught himself orbital mechanics using Orbiter and online tutorials for the game (if you can call it that!) The real deal - Hohmann transfer orbits and spaceflight mechanics-type concepts I'd never heard of.

When I saw "the space game", I thought for sure they were talking about Orbiter. If "designing your own route to Jupiter" is something you're interested in, do yourself a favour and check it out.

more than 4 years ago

Interview With the Man Behind WikiLeaks

seanthenerd Re:Why the press does a bad job (489 comments)

I sometimes wonder if perhaps government needs another wing,

an executive, a legislature, a judiciary and another wing(investigative?) with the job of (but not monopoly on)letting everyone know what the hell the other 3 are up to

I'm often surprised (and impressed) by how well the CBC here in Canada and the BBC in the UK objectively report on government actions and policies. Both of them are government-owned entities, but they seem to provide a much more critical lens on that very government than the private commercial news broadcasters do. It's really counter-intuitive.

more than 4 years ago

The Economist Weighs In For Shorter Copyright Terms

seanthenerd Article contents (386 comments)

...for future reference when the article gets locked: http://www.economist.com/opinion/displaystory.cfm?story_id=15868004

Copyright and wrong
Why the rules on copyright need to return to their roots

Apr 8th 2010 | From The Economist print edition

WHEN Parliament decided, in 1709, to create a law that would protect books from piracy, the London-based publishers and booksellers who had been pushing for such protection were overjoyed. When Queen Anne gave her assent on April 10th the following year—300 years ago this week—to “An act for the encouragement of learning” they were less enthused. Parliament had given them rights, but it had set a time limit on them: 21 years for books already in print and 14 years for new ones, with an additional 14 years if the author was still alive when the first term ran out. After that, the material would enter the public domain so that anyone could reproduce it. The lawmakers intended thus to balance the incentive to create with the interest that society has in free access to knowledge and art. The Statute of Anne thus helped nurture and channel the spate of inventiveness that Enlightenment society and its successors have since enjoyed.

Over the past 50 years, however, that balance has shifted. Largely thanks to the entertainment industry’s lawyers and lobbyists, copyright’s scope and duration have vastly increased. In America, copyright holders get 95 years’ protection as a result of an extension granted in 1998, derided by critics as the “Mickey Mouse Protection Act”. They are now calling for even greater protection, and there have been efforts to introduce similar terms in Europe. Such arguments should be resisted: it is time to tip the balance back.

Annie get your gun

Lengthy protection, it is argued, increases the incentive to create. Digital technology seems to strengthen the argument: by making copying easier, it seems to demand greater protection in return. The idea of extending copyright also has a moral appeal. Intellectual property can seem very like real property, especially when it is yours, and not some faceless corporation’s. As a result people feel that once they own it—especially if they have made it—they should go on owning it, much as they would a house that they could pass on to their descendants. On this reading, protection should be perpetual. Ratcheting up the time limit on a regular basis becomes a reasonable way of approximating that perpetuity.

The notion that lengthening copyright increases creativity is questionable, however. Authors and artists do not generally consult the statute books before deciding whether or not to pick up pen or paintbrush. And overlong copyrights often limit, rather than encourage, a work’s dissemination, impact and influence. It can be difficult to locate copyright holders to obtain the rights to reuse old material. As a result, much content ends up in legal limbo (and in the case of old movies and sound recordings, is left to deteriorate—copying them in order to preserve them may constitute an act of infringement). The penalties even for inadvertent infringement are so punishing that creators routinely have to self-censor their work. Nor does the advent of digital technology strengthen the case for extending the period of protection. Copyright protection is needed partly to cover the costs of creating and distributing works in physical form. Digital technology slashes such costs, and thus reduces the argument for protection.

The moral case, although easy to sympathise with, is a way of trying to have one’s cake and eat it. Copyright was originally the grant of a temporary government-supported monopoly on copying a work, not a property right. From 1710 onwards, it has involved a deal in which the creator or publisher gives up any natural and perpetual claim in order to have the state protect an artificial and limited one. So it remains.

The question is how such a deal can be made equitably. At the moment, the terms of trade favour publishers too much. A return to the 28-year copyrights of the Statute of Anne would be in many ways arbitrary, but not unreasonable. If there is a case for longer terms, they should be on a renewal basis, so that content is not locked up automatically. The value society places on creativity means that fair use needs to be expanded and inadvertent infringement should be minimally penalised. None of this should get in the way of the enforcement of copyright, which remains a vital tool in the encouragement of learning. But tools are not ends in themselves.

more than 4 years ago

What Happens In Vegas Happens In Afghanistan

seanthenerd Re:Fly-by-wireless-link for the win! (522 comments)

I'm not going to justify these actions, they were horrendous. Nonetheless, they were all done for the purpose of ending the war.

Are you joking? You think the "insurgents" are doing this because they just enjoy war for its own sake?

Mod parent up. Everyone wants to end the war (any war); each side just wants it to end in a particular way.

more than 4 years ago

Ballmer Defends Microsoft In China

seanthenerd Re:Of course (162 comments)

Thanks for sharing! Your comments on this story are really interesting to read.

more than 4 years ago

Verizon Doubles Early Termination Fee and More

seanthenerd Re:Verizon is doubling the phone-subsidy to $350.. (520 comments)

Virgin Mobile here in Canada is (i'm guessing) the same idea; they use other carriers' towers, you buy the phone at Wal-Mart.
And seriously (not to be a shill) but their pre-paid service is vastly cheaper than any of the competition where I live (Saskatchewan). I thought the prices were pretty comparable, then I realized the other providers add service and 911 fees on top of the prices they advertise, and charge that much again for call display or voicemail. I pay $20 a month plus $0.10 a minute with unlimited texting, call display and voicemail; it doesn't get much better considering how little I talk. Not sure about their data plans though. I just can't see why people get 3-year phone plans... crazy.

more than 5 years ago

NASA Power Beaming Challenge is On For November 2nd

seanthenerd Finally! (81 comments)

My older brother is the design head for the University of Saskatchewan team, the front-runners of the past competitions. Suffice to say they're really excited about it, since this competition has been delayed month by month since about a year ago! It'll be neat to see everything actually all come together.

You can watch a sweet (if cheesy) video about the team on their website.

more than 5 years ago

US Fed Gov. Says All Music Downloads Are Theft

seanthenerd Re:Apple's iTMS may beg to differ (451 comments)

I'm surprised there isn't more talk of Jamendo on Slashdot. That site is awesome. Ridiculous amounts of Creative Commons-licensed music.

more than 5 years ago

Pirate Party Coming To Canada

seanthenerd Re:As a Canadian, my thoughts (394 comments)

people should have ownership over ideas

I disagree.

Any ideas that I have are, to a considerable (possibly entire) extent, inspired or formed by the ideas that I've been exposed to prior to coming up with "my own" ideas. Really, when you think about it, can any creator take 100% credit for whatever it is they produce? Take philosophy for example, when someone writes up a book with some new philosophical theory, it's guaranteed that the ideas of philosophers going back centuries contributed to the new work.

Maybe the best example is chord progressions and jazz music. A whole pile of great jazz tunes were based on the chord progressions of songs by old timers like Gershwin - jazz artists would take the exact same chords, write new melodies, and improvise great tunes out of them. Imagine though, if copyright law had included chord progressions - jazz music as an art form would likely not exist. And really, why shouldn't chord progressions be copyrighted too? After all, Gershwin came up with some great ones. But the loss to society and culture would have been severe (although nobody would have noticed at the time). And at the same time, Gershwin when he wrote those chords would have been inspired by the musicians of his time that he listened to. So jazz musicians ripped off Gershwin (and other tin pan alley composers), and these guys ripped off previous composers, and society benefited enormously from all of that.

That's something that's all the more apparent today, since something created in one part of the world can be immediately visible worldwide, and won't be forgotten for years. For culture to grow and thrive, you need to be able to rip off, build on, and be inspired by the artists, creators, and inventors that came before you or are your contemporaries. That doesn't happen nowadays.

But the idea itself? You don't deserve to be paid just because you thought about something and put it on paper.

Well, maybe paid a little for putting together previous creators' ideas in a new combination. But in exchange, you have to let other people do the same with yours.

Also, a bizarre but fascinating exploration of perpetual copyright and the future, by Spider Robinson: http://www.spiderrobinson.com/melancholyelephants.html

more than 5 years ago

Special Effects Lessons From JJ Abrams' Star Trek

seanthenerd Re:summarizing the article for you... (461 comments)

This is something that was *very* important to Gene Roddenberry. IIRC, he was very upset at some background voiceover chatter in the first film about a Starfleet dreadnought.

Mod parent up! :) To me, this has always been one of the coolest (and most unique) things about Star Trek. It's cheesy I know, but the conception of a (relatively) peaceful, hopeful future where the heroes were more so explorers and ambassadors and less so warriors - that's really cool. Especially keeping in mind that this was made in the thick of the cold war, where a lot of people thought there might not be any humans left in two decades. That whole concept has kind of been lost in more recent Star Trek ("Enterprise", mostly) and maybe SF in general, which partly makes sense since it doesn't make for really exciting television, that's for sure.

But still. The thought of an optimistic, bright future universe is really something. Props to Gene Roddenberry for being ahead of the curve on that one.

more than 5 years ago

Air Force One Flyby Causes Brief Panic In NYC

seanthenerd Re:We are a bunch (898 comments)

On the other hand, I suppose the Canadians could have finally snapped.

No F-16s for us here in Canada, just CF-18s. Unless they're American, and visiting here on joint exercises.

more than 5 years ago

Energy Secretary Chu Endorses "Clean Coal"

seanthenerd Re:Global warming (464 comments)

Holy cow - thanks for writing this! That's really something. I hope the other post (about you being on the wrong site) was being fascetious - consider me among the Slashdotters genuinely interested in what you're saying here. Keep it coming.

more than 5 years ago

ISS To Become Second Brightest-Object In the Sky

seanthenerd Re:Which country? (243 comments)

Actually, the company that makes it (MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates' space division) was very almostly sold to a US defense contractor last spring. Which would kind of have sucked for Canada's space industry, since that company is basically ...our only one.

So really - back off, get your own robot space arms! : ) Cool, thanks, eh?

A bit of canadian history - in the late 50s, Canada had developed the world's most advanced jet interceptor (the Avro Arrow). When it was cancelled in 1958, almost every single scientist and engineer working on it moved to the States to work on the US space program. The Canadian aeronautical industry never recovered (but at least we can take credit for all the cool stuff NASA did in the 60s!). People really worry that if MDA Space ever gets sold off, the same thing will happen again.

more than 5 years ago

How many hours do you REALLY work each day?

seanthenerd Re:Retired but working more than ever (252 comments)

Best wishes to your wife. And kudos beyond words to you for putting in that kind of time and care and love.
All the best to you both.

more than 5 years ago

What Happens To Code From Failed Projects?

seanthenerd Re:It Gathers Cobwebs Till Nobody Left Remembers I (225 comments)

What do you mean Armada couldn't be officially released?

Sorry - I meant if Activision wanted to release the source code for it now (or if anyone wanted them to) they wouldn't be able to work it out with Paramount. I imagine that most abandonware games die that way. You're right though - definitely was officially released, and highly popular. :) And then gone.

more than 6 years ago


seanthenerd hasn't submitted any stories.



An Ideal World

seanthenerd seanthenerd writes  |  more than 11 years ago In an ideal world, there are no idealists, for their ideals have been accomplished... Yet we will never be satisfied with our world, as our ideals change. Therefore, perhaps it is not the world that should change, but our perspective of it. An ideal world is only our own impression, as we each have individual ideals. Then we can never experience an ideal world, only an ideal state of mind, but are not the two one?...

Any ideas?

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