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Swedish Police Raid the Pirate Bay Again

sirlark Re:Free Enterprise (184 comments)

While I agree with most of what you say, including your conclusion that the complete removal of copyright will mean de facto replacement by a patronage system, you miss two crucial points. Firstly, the fundamental difference between the arts in before the 19th century and today is that the distribution costs are now negligible, especially if the distribution is digital, but even if the distribution is physical. It costs less to produce most art in physical form and more importantly to reproduce than ever before in human history, yet prices do not come down. There's also a clear divorce between production costs and retail costs. A new DVD from a block buster movie with a budget in the 100's of millions costs the same or less to buy than the latest top 10 CDs with production budgets in the 10's of millions. Consumers get this, they understand they're being screwed by the CD producers. They're being charged what the CD producers think the market will bear... except clearly the market won't bear it, because piracy is rampant. Music producers (especially) love to harp on about lost sales, but flat out refuse to consider piracy as market indicator. Let's assume there were a full proof way prevent piracy. Sales would stay pretty flat, or I suspect drop a fair bit. People pirate way more than they could ever afford to buy, and if suddenly forced to buy everything, they would pick and choose a lot more, like back in the 80's and early 90's when kids saved their pocket money to buy that one album they'd been eyeing for three months. Concert and performance revenue would probably fall off (except for really big, well publicised, acts, i.e. the guys who are already coining it) because of lack of exposure. CD prices would be forced down. Lack of exposure is why I think CD sales might actually drop in this scenario. The same argument holds for other types of digitally reproducible art.

Secondly, the content-creation (for want of a better term) industry is a lot like the the professional sports industry. We only really here about the super stars, who are 1% of all the attempts at success. The current copyright regime is already in effect a patronage system, except the "rich dudes" are rich corporations who decide who they will promote. Yes consumers can vote with their money, which only constrains who will be promoted to largely popular inoffensive artists, whereas in a true patronage system the individual tastes of the rich dudes funded a wider variety of creative efforts. There are also a lot more "rich dudes" now than ever before. They're called the middle class. They have a fair amount of disposable income. No single person in the middle class has the money to fund an artist in the same way as traditional patronage systems, but there are vastly more potential consumers for art than ever before in human history, and what's more is the skills required to reproduce a performance and the costs involved are way less than before too, allowing artists to either manage distribution themselves, or pay substantially less than previously to someone else to do it for them.

I view piracy as a form of civil disobedience protesting inflated prices. If digital content were reduced to 25% I'm pretty sure sales would more than quadruple. Also, considering the percentages the artists get paid, they're getting screwed the least by piracy. I know that there are plenty of other people involved in music and film production, but for the most part, they all get paid salaries, not royalties. So they're not getting screwed by piracy.

P.S. I'm viewing things from a South African perspective, where minimum wage is approximately $1 an hour and new release DVDs cost about $18 ~ $25, and a new CD will set you back around $20. E-books range widely from $1 to $15, and physical books are minimum of $25 hard cover, $12 paperback. At minimum wage South Africans have to work 2 and a half days to afford a DVD/CD/Ebook/book.

about two weeks ago
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Start-Up Vsenn Emerges From Stealth With Project Ara Modular Phone Competitor

sirlark Re:Something we don't really need (30 comments)

Main advantage: I want a phone with everything... Best camera, biggest storage best screen. Right now, that cost's me bout $1000 in my country before the reverse subsidizations kick in. I say reverse, because in my country, buying a phone on plan costs more over time than buying the phone outright upfront for the more expensive phones, taking into account the costs of the plan without any phone. That's a BIG layout where I'm from, but if I can buy those components over time and upgrade according to my own priority list, I can assemble the phone within my budget. Better, after two years roll by, I only have to upgrade the components which are underpowered for me. The screen won't degrade over time, so I can keep that. The battery might need replacement, and the camera upgrading. Chances are a quad-core will still be sufficient in 2 years, if PC's are anything to go by. Wifi, bluetooth, NFC, qi charging, etc... once they're in, they won't need upgrading for a while.

about a month and a half ago
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Google Takes the Fight With Oracle To the Supreme Court

sirlark Re: Oracle (146 comments)

It does NOT require creativity. It requires logic. I do this for a living too, and have done so for 30 years. Two people trying to solve the same problem (developing a communications protocol, because that's what an API is) are almost always going to come up with the same solution. Even if they don't, the number of possible solutions is small, and it's NOT a creative choice picking one above the other, it's a technical choice.

about 2 months ago
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Energy Utilities Trying To Stifle Growth of Solar Power

sirlark Charge for fixed costs (488 comments)

Where I live, one pays a hefty deposit when your are connected to the grid in a residential property (refunded when you sell, paid when you buy). In addition, one is charged a flat monthly connection fee plus a usage based fee. It sound like the utilities just need to (a) start charging a monthly connection fee to cover their fixed costs, and (b) if they are already charging this, increase that fee accordingly as renewable power generation increases. If someone doesn't want to pay the connection fee, and feels they can get by on power generated by themselves alone, they can disconnect from the grid.

about 3 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Software Issue Tracking Transparency - Good Or Bad?

sirlark It's complicated (159 comments)

First of all, if you are developing a proprietary software product, you're legal department might want to weigh in on the exposure of code via submitted patches on a public bugzilla database. Secondly, if you're developing an ERP system, you have a LOT of established, mature, and tested (which will be interpreted by the PHBs looking to buy your product as "bug free") competitors out there. in this case exposing the bug database HIGHLIGHTS your products immaturity, which is probably a bad thing for sales. That said sales should realise they are marketing an immature product. Presumably your product has other differentiating points that will help it gain market share, and I'm assuming lower price is probably one of the main selling points. Sales cannot hide the fact your product is immature, but they do have a point asking you not to go around highlighting it. The last thing, is to do an in depth analysis of the costs of running the public database, versus the costs of sanitizing reports on a regular basis plus the added burden of support staff to manage the bug database on behalf of clients. The bean counters are aware of the fact that there should be staff dedicated to shielding customers from the ugliness of the development process, and that those people shouldn't be developers, because developers cost more per hour... right? All in all, the gory details on your side will determine whether it's good business to continue in an open manner, or seal things up...

about 3 months ago
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Gartner: Internet of Things Has Reached Hype Peak

sirlark Re:Gartner cynic here - enlighten me (98 comments)

PHB's love them, they feel like they've learned something important because PRETTY PICTURES.

about 4 months ago
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John McAfee Airs His Beefs About Privacy In Def Con Surprise Talk

sirlark Re:Privacy is an illusion (124 comments)

The only thing we have going for us, is that the vast majority of us won't raise the eyebrows of any government employees in our lifetimes. The sad part is that a lonely few will, and they'll be dealt with unfairly and harshly.

Which means it falls to us as the vast majority to hold those who abuse their governmental power to account when they deal with someone unfairly. A duty, I'm sad to say, we are all falling woefully short of...

And before anyone bitches about me just bitching, here is the first and most important step you can take. Inform Yourself! Check your putative representative's voting records, and compare it to what he's saying. Go out and but a newspaper from the "other side", to get balanced view of things. Challenge your friends when they make wild, or even just unsubstantiated, statements. A phrase I like personally (from CSI) "state your source". It's gentle, and mostly non-offensive, and goes down well as a pop-culture reference. And lastly, if you don't have the resources to fact check something, suggest it to a fact checking agency. They don't work for free often, but if you put something on their radar, they can at least look in to it when some suitably close paid for work comes in. Better yet, tip off the opposing politician's campaign, and get them to pay for it.

about 4 months ago
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Verizon Throttles Data To "Provide Incentive To Limit Usage"

sirlark Sell BandWIDTH not data (316 comments)

What I don't understand is why they don't just make everyone's life easier and sell the unlimited plans by bandwidth, not 'data limit', i.e. unlimited 1Gb/s costs X, unlimited 2Gb/s costs more etc. Pay for your speed, and never sell more than some fraction of a towers total bandwidth, so that two or three big down loaders at once don't clobber everyone else.

about 5 months ago
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Driverless Buses Ruled Out For London, For Now

sirlark Re:How many drivers? (84 comments)

I agree that the distribution of the benefits of progress is a big problem, but consider also the distribution of losses. By its very nature, technological progress tends to cut low-skilled jobs, because those are the easiest to automate. In general, when progress happens it means we as a society have to become more educated just to get on the bottom of the employment ladder. If anything, the distribution of benefits should be generously apportioned towards creating and extending free education up to graduate level at least. When driver-less cars come into widespread usage, there will be some replacement of lost jobs with other ones: maintenance of driver-less cars, design and production of apps/entertainment systems for driver-less cars, etc. Those are all skilled labour positions. However, there's one thing that doesn't require any skill. Owning a car. And owning a driver-less car allows a single taxi operator to run multiple vehicles. Sure it requires a capital investment, but the point is, it doesn't remove the income stream entirely, in fact, it might even allow more income if handled correctly.

about 5 months ago
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Math, Programming, and Language Learning

sirlark Re:Your Results Will Vary (241 comments)

Higher Math is not necessary in all fields of programming but it is certainly very necessary in many.

... which means that higher maths is really domain specific, and not necessary for programming. Otherwise I could say the accounting or biochemistry were necessary to learn to program, if that's the field I started out in learning to program

about 5 months ago
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Interviews: Ask Lawrence Lessig About His Mayday PAC

sirlark Re:Irony (308 comments)

There's a chapter in Freakonomics that covers this iirc. The summary goes something like; spending money won't make people like you, and if people dislike you they won't vote for you. If they don't dislike you, then money spent is positively correlated with supporting votes.

about 6 months ago
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Open-Source Hardware For Neuroscience

sirlark Re:less money yes, less time no (41 comments)

Agreed! Firstly, as the P pointed out, a significant amount of time goes into getting grants to fund the experiments. This isn't going to go away, funding is still required, but it will mean that YOUR lab now has a chance of getting the grant, as opposed to the lab that already has the machine available for use because it was funded by the last grant. This means a wider variety of labs doing the science, which is a good thing. Also, having worked for a commercial science institute that really pushed the idea of 'brand name equipment saves you time and money', I can assure you, it's not the case. Our brand name equipment was ALWAYS down, waiting on a repair guy to be flown in from another continent, because the local guy didn't know how to fix it, or didn't have the parts. On top of that, we often had to run experiments multiple times because the results were suspect. The machine operator ended up with more repair skills than the first-level call out guy after about a year... that saved us time! So I'd say having in-house skills for maintaining your CORE equipment is a good thing. Open source design and hopefully some interchangeability in parts, a bonus!

about 6 months ago
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Game Characters Controlled By Player's Emotions

sirlark Bureaucracy! (44 comments)

Does anyone remember that old game: "Bureaucracy"? The aim was too keep your blood pressure low enough not to have a stroke and die while dealing with everyday issues. Maybe a remake with this sort of controller is in order, then it could measure your real blood pressure.

Then, maybe, someone can use the measurements as evidence in a suit against... well basically every cable, internet, or phone company, building contractors, and government institution.

about 6 months ago
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NSA's Novel Claim: Our Systems Are Too Complex To Obey the Law

sirlark Re:Too Big to Be Indicted... (245 comments)

The banks, on the other hand, are very easy to "kill" — just stop using them.

Except when the government steps in with your taxes to bail out the bank that goes bankrupt because everyone stopped using it; and that is assuming Joe Consumer actually has a big enough effect in the first place, because banks don't get deposits only from the man on the street. The money is in the loans. And you can't just stop using a bank if you have a loan. Can't buy a house without a loan either generally, and buying often makes more sense than paying off your landlord's mortgage.

about 6 months ago
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Whistleblowers Enter the Post-Snowden Era

sirlark Re:Missing the point as usual (129 comments)

Good points, both the P and the GP. I should rephrase and re-summarize as: There can be no legal whistle blowing of legal but unlawful activities. I would consider Snowden's revelations lawful, but only some of them legal. Some of the stuff the re released describes clearly illegal activities. Whistle blowing of illegal activities is essentially reporting a crime, and there's a long tradition of reporting crimes (especially corporate ones) to the press instead of the cops.

about 7 months ago
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Whistleblowers Enter the Post-Snowden Era

sirlark Missing the point as usual (129 comments)

actively promotes federal whistleblowing through lawful disclosures (Emphasis Mine)

It's not about disclosing illegal activities. It's about disclosing activities that shouldn't be legal, or activities the public should be made aware of because their government is doing it behind their backs, even if legally. Yes, the ballot box is supposed to be the place to sort it out, but the ballot box presumes an informed citizenry. An informed citizenry presumes a system where whistle blowers are protected if they're actions are indeed in the public interest.

There can be no lawful disclosure if revealing legally classified documents is unlawful, even if the legal system facilitating the classification of those documents doesn't enjoy the broad support of the people. The correct term, that doesn't allow legal weaselling is "the public interest".

about 7 months ago
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Who Helped Kill Patent Troll Reform In the Senate

sirlark Re:Kudos (157 comments)

Seems to work for the US military *ducks*

about 7 months ago

Submissions

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Nasa approves 'impossible' space engine design that apparently violates the laws

sirlark sirlark writes  |  about 5 months ago

sirlark (1676276) writes "In a quiet announcement that has sent shockwaves through the scientific world, Nasa has cautiously given its seal of approval to a new type of “impossible” engine that could revolutionize space travel.

In a paper published by the agency’s experimental Eagleworks Laboratories, Nasa engineers confirmed that they had produced tiny amounts of thrust from an engine without propellant – an apparent violation of the conservation of momentum; the law of physics that states that every action must have an equal and opposite reaction."

Link to Original Source
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Physics Community Afire With Rumors of Higgs Boson Discovery | Wired Science | W

sirlark sirlark writes  |  more than 2 years ago

sirlark (1676276) writes "The latest rumors circulating around the physics blogosphere suggest that scientists with the Large Hadron Collider will announce the discovery of the Higgs boson within weeks. “The bottom line though is now clear: There’s something there which looks like a Higgs is supposed to look,” wrote mathematician Peter Woit on his blog, Not Even Wrong."
Link to Original Source
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Julian Assange loses extradition appeal at Supreme Court

sirlark sirlark writes  |  more than 2 years ago

sirlark (1676276) writes "Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has lost his Supreme Court fight against extradition to Sweden to face accusations of sex offences. The judgement was reached by a majority of five to two, the court's president, Lord Phillips, told the hearing. Mr Assange's legal team was given 14 days to consider the ruling before a final decision is made, leaving the possibility the case could be reheard."
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Computer game designed to treat depression as effective as traditional treatment

sirlark sirlark writes  |  more than 2 years ago

sirlark (1676276) writes "Researchers at the University of Auckland tested an interactive 3D fantasy game called Sparx on a 94 youngsters diagnosed with depression whose average age was 15 and a half. Sparx invites a user to take on a series of seven challenges over four to seven weeks in which an avatar has to learn to deal with anger and hurt feelings and swap negative thoughts for helpful ones. Used for three months, Sparx was at least as effective as face-to-face conventional counselling, according to several depression rating scales. In addition, 44% of the Sparx group who carried out at least four of the seven challenges recovered completely. In the conventional treatment group, only 26% recovered fully.

One has to wonder if it Sparx specifically, or gaming in general that provides the most benefit. Given that most of the symptoms of depression relate to a feeling of being unable to influence one's environment (powerlessness, helplessness, ennui, etc) and games are specifically designed to make one feel powerful but challenged (if they hit the sweet spot)."
Link to Original Source

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Building a plug and play solar generator

sirlark sirlark writes  |  more than 4 years ago

sirlark (1676276) writes "I don't own property, I rent, as do a significant portion of the population I'm sure. I would still like to do my bit for the environment though, and have purchased a geyser insulation blanket that can move a round with me, I recycle plastic/paper/glass etc. But the really significant changes I could make are forbidden, specifically solar or wind power generation. As long as I rent, I can't install solar panels, and I don't even think wind power generation options exist on a single urban property scale. Unless I can convince each and every land lord I encounter to install solar panels, which has never happened, and likely never will as there's no pay off for the land lord since they don't get they energy savings, I can't afford to install solar panels everywhere I go, because they don't pay off in the time before I move again. Also, most land lords flat out refuse to allow that kind of modification to their property, even if I offer to pay (conditional on a long lease).

So, to all you electrical engineers out there, how easy would it be to develop a commercial product that can be used as simply as a gasoline generator, or better yet, plug in to the normal wiring of a house or flat via a standard wall socket? Even if it doesn't generate enough to power the entire house, every little helps. I was thinking something one could mount on a wall that gets a lot of sun, or a rooftop, and can be installed easily with with a ladder and maybe a buddy. Most importantly, something that can be installed and removed without requiring an electrician, and is hopefully as simply as running a cord from the generator to the nearest wall socket."
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Best way to promote a new open source project?

sirlark sirlark writes  |  more than 4 years ago

sirlark (1676276) writes "Hello fellow /.'ers, apart from shameless self promotion on slashdot, what suggestion do others have for promoting awareness around a relatively new open source project. It's something I've written myself, and it's now at the stage where I'm running out of close friends who'll let me test on their machines... I need to open up to public beta testing. The project is already on sourceforge. For those that don't want to RTFA, the project is a code generator that takes an SQL file full of CREATE TABLE statements with markup in the comments and generates all the PHP forms required for the usual CRUD operations plus a bunch more... I'm working on a decent web page containing a demo which may take a week or so to get up and running."
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