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Comment: The wrong license (Score 5, Interesting) 130

by Alain Williams (#46785949) Attached to: Plant Breeders Release 'Open Source Seeds'

The license used is:

"It basically says these seeds are free to use in any way you want. They can't be legally protected. Enjoy them."

This is a GPL type license. There is nothing to stop Monsanto from going to a farmer who is using these seeds and saying:

Pollen from one of our products blew in last year and so these seeds now contain some of our genes, so you now owe us for using these seeds and can't give it away to anyone.

The only way to deal with Monsanto is to beat them at their own game. One way would be to develop a seed with some novel genes (call them NoGe) and copyright these under something like the GPL. Then grow these seeds upwind of a Monsanto development facility; when, later, Monsanto then sue someone for illegal use of their seeds a NoGe 'owner' could testify that the Monsanto seeds must be allowed free to everyone use due to the 'viral nature' of the GPL. That legal punch up would be interesting to watch!

Comment: Talking of unpaid taxes ... (Score 4, Funny) 630

by Alain Williams (#46754505) Attached to: IRS Can Now Seize Your Tax Refund To Pay a Relative's Debt

Now that the government of the USA has decided to remove the statue of limitations as regards taxation, might I remind Barack Obama of the little matter of unpaid taxes to King George III of England. These date back to your protest against the 1773 Tea Act. Can I tell her Magesty's government that payment will soon be made ?

Comment: Whomade the DMCA complaint ? (Score 2) 243

by Alain Williams (#46620595) Attached to: Dropbox's New Policy of Scanning Files For DMCA Issues

The image of the error message did not say who, or which corporation, had made the DMCA complaint. I thought that in order for something to be taken down under the DMCA the user had to be told who was complaining.

In this case: the user admits that the file was something that he should not be sharing, but there have been cases where the DMCA is being used to prevent legal files - in a case like that the user must be told who is complaining so that they can challenge the DMCA complaint.

Comment: Questions: (Score 1) 93

by Alain Williams (#46614037) Attached to: Security Evaluation of the Tesla Model S

* Can the owner switch off the remote control/access to their car ?

* Can the owner switch off the remote control/access to their car by Tesla as well as the owner ?

* 6 character password. Is that the minimum length or the length it must be (Ie can't set a longer one) ?

* It mentions an iPhone app. What if I don't have (or want) an iPhone ?

* What cars made by companies other than Tesla have similar systems ?

Comment: Fitted because they were needed! (Score 1) 314

This is what the rest of the automotive industry will say, then: "This shows what we have said all along, these things are unsafe.". These (misleading) headlines will be quoted all over - "case proven, Tesla is not safe".

It would be amusing to see them held to the same standards - which the regulator could, nay - should, do.

Comment: Re:scientists and engineers don't want leap second (Score 1) 224

by Alain Williams (#46597401) Attached to: Introducing a Calendar System For the Information Age

They screw everything up.

Ignoring leap seconds just pushes the problem to our great-geat grandchilren. By the time that they have to deal with it the problem will be even worse. Far better to fix your program to cope with leap seconds than leave future generations a problem as your legacy. Don't be lazy.

Comment: Re:It's not arrogant, it's correct. (Score 1) 466

I think that everyone agrees, that. The point is who pays for the carrying of data between the providers. OK: what I pay my ISP should also pay for them to fetch/send my bytes onwards in the Internet as well. I will cost my ISP less if I choose to download something from a local mirror than if I grab it from the other side of the world. Netflix are aware of that and have the Open Connect Content Delivery Network, but that won't solve all the probelms.

Between them Netflix and YouTube made up more than 50 percent of peak downstream Internet traffic in N America, so it is a significant issue.

Comment: Re:Lemme posit this... (Score 2) 100

Agreed: watching this a small number of times is OK, after that it grates. However: if these guys can produce the ads for $1,500 then the car company could afford to have many of them, all different; that would retain interest. If the series of adverts told some sort of story people would look forwards to them and maybe actively watch them.

Comment: Re:Tell Putin that you disapprove (Score 3, Insightful) 309

by Alain Williams (#46481237) Attached to: Russia Blocks Internet Sites of Putin Critics

This is what I wrote. Do not copy this word for word, write it your way.

Dear sir,

I was aghast to learn that Russia has sought to stifle political dissent by blocking news sites and closing these sites. This is very much against the spirit of glasnost that the great Mikhail Gorbachev used some 25 years ago when he brought the Soviet Union into the modern world.

To be healthy a society needs its citizens to be able to speak freely, otherwise it will stagnate: innovation will suffer if new ideas are frowned upon, we live in a changing world, if we do not change then we slowly decline.

This is as much about science & technology as it is about politics. If you stifle political thought then you chill all thought and the country will suffer.

Mr Putin is putting his short term comfort before the long term health of Russia. Please tell him this this is neither good for Russia nor the rest of the world.

Please convey this email to the ambassador.

If you are not aware of what I talk about, please read:

Comment: Tell Putin that you disapprove (Score 3, Interesting) 309

by Alain Williams (#46481143) Attached to: Russia Blocks Internet Sites of Putin Critics

Commenting here is great, but Putin does not read Slashdot. Write to your country's Russian ambassador, tell him what you think. OK: what you say will be ignored, but if 10,000 of you write - then Putin may hear of it ... maybe no more than 2 lines at the bottom of some report, but that is better than nothing.

Just to make it easier for you: the UK Russian embassy contact page (I would suggest Russia-UK relations queries); the USA Russian embassy contact page, post & 'phone only, unless someone can dig better than I can. Also feel free to reply to this comment with contact info for the Russian embassy in your country.

If you say nothing, then you will be ignored. Saying something cannot be worse than that !

Real computer scientists don't comment their code. The identifiers are so long they can't afford the disk space.