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Egg-free Flu Vaccines Provide Faster Pandemic Response

waterbear mod-up informative parent! (64 comments)

The parent post to this has a whole lot of specific information about the new generation of flu- vaccines --

There's much more specific stuff here than in the (rather vague) Russian review for which a link was put up earlier.


about 5 months ago

Toyota's Killer Firmware

waterbear The car OS is not ok if it kills any people at all (610 comments)

I'd be happy with a car OS that kills less than 30,000 people per year.

If a car manufacturing defect kills anybody at all, then there should be manufacturer's liability for it.

They don't get a free pass just because of the kind of manufacturing defect, there's no privilege against liability just because it's a software defect.


about 8 months ago

Wikipedia's Participation Problem

waterbear Re:how to (try to) deal with falsehoods on wikiped (372 comments)

Why is anybody who just wants to correct some misinformation going to go through this much work? I'd just be like, "fuck it then." And that's exactly what's happening.

To an extent I feel the same way.

But then the original ideal of wikipedia was a kind of democracy where it doesn't matter who speaks, only what is spoken. That in turn means that you or I don't just have status to give an edict and say 'this is wrong', we have to do a bit, to show how and why. Ok, it looks a lot as if the a-holes have hijacked the procedure in many cases.

But it's not all that much more work to stick in a flag and give reasons on the talk page, before coming back later to listen to what anybody else has said before making the deletion.


about 9 months ago

Wikipedia's Participation Problem

waterbear how to (try to) deal with falsehoods on wikipedia (372 comments)

I've told this before but it's worth repeating. I live in a very small town (>50 people), the wiki article says that the town was devastated by a fire in the 60s. I removed it because there was no fire, at all. It was reversed and added back and I was told I needed a reference or cite. How do you cite something that didn't happen?

The fire wasn't cited either, but it's still there.

I don't have a complete answer, but one of the things you could do is stick in a 'citation needed' flag. Then you could post on the article's discussion-page to state your challenge to the false content, and say that if no citation is forthcoming you'll delete the unsupported content. That may flush out any a-hole who wants to start an edit war (which is something that can attract WP sanctions anyway), and then if you have the stomach for it you can argue/fight directly if needed -- and if you haven't become tired of all the bullshit.

(Seems to me, btw, one of the neat things about this very flawed wikipedia thing is that at least it did (does?) raise consciousness about the need for checking suspect 'facts' and proper sources. There have even been 'citation needed' T-shirts.)

Maybe you could even stimulate the creation of a 'reliable source' (according to the wikipedia policies) by getting the nearest local newspaper to run a letter or article about wikipedia's false claim about your locality. Then cite that.



about 9 months ago

Doubleclick Cofounder Responds to Patent Troll by Filing Extortion Lawsuit

waterbear Those kinds of patent laws used to exist (225 comments)

Curiously enough, some of the points made by 'anon' in the parent post here used to be part of some patent law systems in really ancient times (like 16th-18th centuries), but they were one by one abandoned, by court decisions or legislative amendments:

>> 1) Patent times are FAR too long in many cases and should not be renewable.

An early example of a time limit, fixed in 1623 in England, was 14 years from a really early time-point when patent grant took place -- which used to be almost immediately on application (compared with today's long process).

>> 2) Minor minor changes to the original patent should not result in a new patent.

One of the very early judges (even 16th century) said that small improvements were only like "a new button on an old coat" and refused to uphold the patent, setting a precedent that lasted a couple hundred years till overturned.

>> 3) Patents should only be issues where there is an actual product ... not a process.

Definition of invention used to be 'manner of new manufacture' in several countries, but that's gone now pretty much everywhere.

>> 4) Software falls under copyright and trademark laws and therefore patents do not apply.

The old definition (see 3) automatically excluded this kind of thing from patenting.

>> 5) If you have not created and sold a product to the public using said patent within 2 years of filing then you loose ALL rights to it.

For many decades (during the 19th & 20th c. in many countries, but not including US, I think) the patentee's failure to make & sell the invention used to be called an 'abuse of monopoly', it enabled others to claim the grant of (royalty-bearing) licenses by right, and it could also expose the patent to a risk of cancellation. So there was a way to achieve no exclusion from a patented invention if the patent holder wasn't doing anything about it.

it's of interest to ask 'who lobbied' for all of the changes that got rid of these old safeguards.


about 10 months ago

Wikileaks Releases A Massive "Insurance" File That No One Can Open

waterbear Smaller chunks 400GB would transmit/store easier (394 comments)

They probably need to divide that gargantuan thing, 400GB, down into smaller, more manageable, chunks before encrypting it. Then they might get more people cooperating with them. How many people can download and store 400GB in one chunk?

Also, the bigger the chunk, the more easily corrupted, and the corruption takes out the possibility of decrypting the whole thing?

about a year ago

Book Review: Eloquent JavaScript: a Modern Introduction To Programming

waterbear What exactly is javascript helping to do there? (107 comments)

... the only client side language ...

So have I got this straight, does that mean it's the only way webpage owners can download loads of code on to my computer and run it, when all I did was click to view their page?

When exactly did they get the right to do that?


1 year,13 days

DuckDuckGo: Illusion of Privacy

waterbear Re:100% serious question [about searchability] (264 comments)

>I've never, ever found anything on search engines.

Pity about that, I've found them useful in a variety of subjects, usually topical or technical. Your experience stated at that level of generality could have two causes. (a) You could be searching for some difficult target subject, where the web-objects you want to see just don't have any characteristic searchable 'flag' words with relevant meaning. (b) It could be your search technique, not searching by the 'flag' words that do characterize your subject.

Case (a) would cover subjects where the only characteristic words are heavily used elsewhere too, bringing search results with low 'signal-to-noise ratio'. Examples are person-searches using very common names.

You mention searching for software. Searches in some software areas could be difficult, I guess, if the only 'flag-words' are either pretty much meaningless or over-generalized tokens, or else, words arbitrarily transferred from other contexts in defiance of their usual specific meaning. (Maybe their authors haven't thought about searchability, or else just don't want them to be found in searches.) If that's the special stuff you're searching for then you may be SOL :(

1 year,14 days

Node.js and MongoDB Turning JavaScript Into a Full-Stack Language

waterbear supported how? (354 comments)

>>But if you're going to pick a single language to be used by everyone for all purposes, then why pick something kludgy like JavaScript?

>Because it is the only language that is universally supported in browsers. Would be nice were that not the case, but it is the fact that we have to live with.

"Because it is the only language for which there are claims of universal support in browsers."


about a year ago

Ask Slashdot: Can I Cross US Borders With Legally Ripped Media?

waterbear Very expensive to find out if it's legal or not (285 comments)

Well, you could do worse than to look at 17 USC sections 106(3), 602, 109, 107, and the recent Kirtsaeng decision from the US Supreme Court (find that here: [] )

So, that's the tale of somebody who was challenged on his right to dispose of books that he lawfully had sent to him from outside the country.

He had to go all the way to the Supreme Court to get the adverse claim dismissed.

Is that much like an enouraging example??

Or is it to tell the OP that he needs to get used to the custom of treating law-courts as a kind of social meeting-place?


about a year ago

Firefox 22 Released, Boosts 3-D Gaming and Video Calls

waterbear Are there still memory leaks? (156 comments)

Is there something named Firefox that isn't a browser but uses the same silly exponentially increasing versioning scheme?

I used to use Firefox, and the thing about it that I remember 'increasing' was its memory consumption, due to leaks, up to the point that the computer practically froze. I stopped using Firefox when all I could get was denial that there were problems.

So how is the memory leakage issue now? (If there are reliable good reports, then maybe I might dare to try Firefox again?)


about a year ago

Congress Proposes Strategy For Fighting Patent Trolls

waterbear Curiously, a real 'Soviet Union' point (96 comments)

One of the oddities of the former Soviet Union was the arrangements they had (at least on paper) for inventors.

The default position more or less was that exploitation rights went to the state, but if the inventor got an 'inventor's certificate', it meant that s/he had a few useful rights. One of them was the right to be employed in connection with exploitation of the invention (that is, only if any use was made of it). They were eligible for housing preference and there was even an award title of 'Honored Inventor of the Soviet Union'.

Sure, whether any of that worked in reality is another question, but the concept seems interesting.

about a year ago

Vint Cerf: Data That's Here Today May Be Gone Tomorrow

waterbear longterm readability and backwards compatibility (358 comments)

There are free/libre software projects with great records in opening up interoperability and keeping backwards compatibility. On the other hand, fashions among proprietary s/w makers seem to change, and about now there is a tendency to stop worrying about existing users and just abandon past formats.

Any number of folk will say things like "shouldn't be difficult at all to reverse engineer", but that doesn't make anything happen. On the other hand, there are plenty of apostles of the latest version ready to heap abuse on anyone bold enough to ask for backwards compatibility, and that attitude is a big source of problems.

Longterm readability is helped when software developers take the trouble to maintain backwards compatibility across different versions of popular tools and across competing applications that have broadly similar uses. That doesn't directly help with hardware barriers, but at least it would be good if the number of needless software barriers is kept down.

[...] Most of these things will be readable just as long as the applications that created them are around, but not longer.
Incidentally, all my decades old LeTeX documents still compile and can also be read directly. So can my 20 year old ASCII-coded measurement data.

about a year ago

Bandages That Can Turn Off Genes Encourages Wound Healing

waterbear Re:What's being 'silenced' here? (54 comments)

TrashGod wrote:
> The article is touting a potentially more effective delivery system (gun), rather than a particular fragment (bullet).

Yes, that looks like a fair assessment. But the story as posted and linked is still essentially incomplete, because it doesn't mention what useful thing they propose to deliver. There has to be some beneficial payload in order to make this delivery system any use at all, assuming of course that it works as a delivery system.

The possible example of a 'payload' that you mention (not mentioned in the original article or links), for which you provided a separate link, is of something to down-regulate the production of protein(s) that induce cellular senescence in chronic wounds. This looks as if it could even be actually harmful if added to a wound, because the article you linked explains that the (natural) induction of this senescence restricts fibrosis in wound-healing. But, fibrosis "can be defined as the replacement of the normal structural elements of the tissue by distorted, non-functional and excessive accumulation of scar tissue" and gives rise to "many clinical problems" (such as keloids, hypertrophic scars, strictures and a whole list of problems). Thus, downregulating this senescence-inducing protein would be expected to increase the level of fibrosis in the healing wound, and to increase those problems: a harm, not a benefit.

There are plenty of technical 'solutions' around that might be wonderful if there was actually a problem of the right shape for them to solve -- read: they are of no real use because there is no useful application for what they might do. As pure science this one may have interest, but as a useful product, there's no sign here of that.

about a year ago

Bandages That Can Turn Off Genes Encourages Wound Healing

waterbear What's being 'silenced' here? (54 comments)

Obviously one crucial element in the safety/efficacy of anything like this is the identity of the gene/protein involved:-- what exactly is being 'silenced' here and taken away from the wound-healing process?

Whatever, it's not mentioned in either the /. summary or either of the links referred to. So there's no real clue in the story, or in the links, about whether the application of this delivery technique is likely to be beneficial or the reverse.

Informative reportage?

about a year ago

Supreme Court Rules For Monsanto In Patent Case

waterbear Both Monsanto patents are about to be history (579 comments)

It is worth adding that both of the Monsanto patents mentioned in the Supreme Court judgment either are, or will shortly become, history. The Supreme Court judgment itself can be read at

One of the Monsanto patents is U.S. Patent 5,352,605, issued October 4, 1994,352,605.PN.&OS=PN/5,352,605&RS=PN/5,352,605

and the other is U.S. Patent RE 39,247E, a reissue of U.S. Patent Number 5,633,435, originally issued May 27, 1997,633,435.PN.&OS=PN/5,633,435&RS=PN/5,633,435.

Both these were filed before mid-1995 (see linked information at US Patent Office website) , and so they seem to have arisen from the 'old-law' US patent regime, when the patent term used to be '17 years from issue date'. Under that old regime the normal expiry dates for these two patents would be October 2011 and May 2014 (unless Monsanto manages for any reason to obtain some patent-term extension).

(The current patent-term regime doesn't seem to apply to these two, but if the last patent applications in the chains leading to these patents had been filed under the current law, with a 20-year term from application date, then the normal expiry dates would have been determined from the earliest dates in the chains of patent applications from which the two patents eventually issued. These chains began in 1983 and 1990, and would have led to normal expiry dates in 2003 and 2010, so the patents would on that basis already have been history for some time now.)


about a year ago

Stop Standardizing HTML

waterbear Once a standard, now a crowd of sub-standards (302 comments)

What was once a standard[...]

Mod parent up.

Yes, IMO it's realistic right to talk of the 'standard' in the past tense. Now many web-pages seem to have been affected by a 'tower of Babel' syndrome, with everyone asking their visitors to use their favorite subsidiary language upgrade -- but each new 'sub-standard' seems to have its undocumented variants.


about a year ago

Tweet From Hacked AP Account Causes High Freq. Traders To Drop DOW 150 Points

waterbear Behind-the-scenes avoidance of trading loss (314 comments)

I don't see where the articles address the "reversing of losses" that the GGP cited. HFT may be flawed, but I don't see the items I questioned being addressed.

Yes, the questions were raised: Look in the '247wallst' article at and search for 'why' as in 'Why were the orders canceled?'

In other words, by some unknown mechanism, certain market participants were able to have second thoughts about their trades.

Their profit, or their cancellation of loss, was someone else's non-cushioned loss.


about a year ago

EdX Online Classroom Code Going Open Source, Uniting With Stanford

waterbear Re:How open is all of this? (27 comments)

The more specific and narrow you make your requirements, the more people you exclude.

anybody making a stink about it is either really not thinking the problem through and just grumbling because it bothers them (a curmudgeon), or just trying to start trouble (a troll.)

That attitude to an educational/outreach site and your repetition of name-calling speak for themselves.

about a year ago



EU research suggests online music piracy does not harm legitimate sales

waterbear waterbear writes  |  about a year ago

waterbear writes "Two researchers at the European Commission's 'in-house science service' IPTS, Luis Aguiar and Bertin Martens, report results of their study of "the effects of illegal downloading and legal streaming on the legal purchases of digital music". Among their conclusions is that Internet users do not seem to view illegal downloading as a substitute for legal digital music. They find that a 10% increase in clicks on legal streaming websites leads to up to a 0.7% increase in clicks on legal digital purchase websites, but a 10% increase in clicks on illegal downloading websites leads only to a 0.2% increase in clicks on legal purchase websites. A BBC report of this research summarizes that "music web piracy does not harm legitimate sales", and also says that music industry reaction to the report is heavily critical, calling it "flawed and misleading"."
Link to Original Source


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