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Comment: Is it really any better? (Score 3, Interesting) 264

by Alef (#46288509) Attached to: Routers Pose Biggest Security Threat To Home Networks

This is an honest question.

Is there any penetration testing or statistics that suggests that dd-wrt and the likes are more secure, or is this an it-runs-Linux-so-it-must-be-good knee-jerk assumption?

I used to run dd-wrt on a router some years ago and liked it feature-wise and performance-wise. However, my confidence in its security took a pretty big hit when I read about this gaping security hole in 2009. It's the kind of issue that makes you doubt that some of the developers really know what they are doing.

Comment: Re:We're in the pre-industrial era.. (Score 1) 716

by Alef (#46223921) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Should Developers Fix Bugs They Cause On Their Own Time?

Unfortunately today, a talented, competent developer, using best practices, always produces bugs

As is the case with builders of pretty much any sufficiently complex system. The number of decisions and assumptions going into any reasonably advanced software is astounding, and the time spend on each of these is comparatively rather small. Furthermore, compared to other disciplines, I'd say software development man-hours usually involve a significantly higher ratio of "novel" solutions, since reuse of program logic through libraries is fairly easy. If you are an architect drawing a house, or a lawyer writing a contract text, much (though certainly not all) of what you do is repetition of something you have done a hundred times before. By the time a good programmer has solved the same programming problem twice, he/she has already made a library routine out of it. As long as there are humans developing the software, we can't expect perfect code, not today nor tomorrow.

Comment: Re:RMS needs to get over the GPL (Score 2) 279

by Alef (#46202143) Attached to: LLVM & GCC Compiler Developers To Begin Collaborating

Another advantage of keeping involved and contributing back is that you get to influence the direction in which the upstream project goes (if the maintainers aren't too obstinate). And through that you make better use of the work produced by people you don't have to pay. Also, contributing a patch back lets you exploit the quality assurance provided by the project, be it explicit or implicit in the fact that your patch will be used and tested in practice by a lot of more people.

I'd say it makes business sense to contribute back to BSD projects for anything that isn't the core technology of your company. If I run a hypothetical company that makes, let's say, raytracers for CGI effects, the advantages I have by keeping fixes in a logging framework or networking library to myself are very small. Contributing back gains me more. Those things aren't what my company is supposed to be good at anyway.

If we would be using a BSD licensed raytracing library, on the other hand, then it would be a different matter. But if you are a company whose business case is developing commercial raytracers, you'd better be far ahead of what's available through BSD licensed software in terms of raytracing, or you should ask yourself if you are in the right market. And if you have that expertise and it is what you use to compete, you would keep it in-house under any circumstances.

So I'd say (smart) companies contribute back whenever it's something that's outside of their core business, and otherwise not. So GPL or not doesn't really make a difference in regard to that -- it's not going to make a company give away what they use to compete, it only makes more companies stay away from your code. Then again, if that's what someone wants, as a matter of principle, then fair enough, it's their choice and I have nothing to say against it.

Comment: Re:And A Rebuttal (Score 1) 360

by Alef (#46153449) Attached to: Why Games Should Be In the Public Domain

Likewise, I dislike the idea of musicians having their music co-opted without their consent into jingles to peddle stain removers and political parties in commercials.

The Berne Convention says: "Independent of the author's economic rights, and even after the transfer of the said rights, the author shall have the right to claim authorship of the work and to object to any distortion, modification of, or other derogatory action in relation to the said work, which would be prejudicial to the author's honor or reputation."

This is called the moral rights of a work, and in many countries it has a different time limit than the commercial rights and cannot be transferred from the original author. I am not sure how it would apply to your jingles example, but I know of one case in Sweden where a film maker successfully sued a TV network for showing his film with added breaks for TV commercials, even though the network had acquired the necessary distribution rights, arguing that they had distorted the creative expression of his film (or something along those lines).

Comment: Re:Hey Mr. "Open Book" anonymous jackass (Score 2) 252

by Alef (#45665669) Attached to: California Man Arrested for Running 'Revenge Porn' Website

That one cannot conceive of a benefit for some kind of behavior is not grounds for making it illegal.

Neither is it an argument for keeping it legal, which was my point. In a cost-benefit analysis, what is the benefit of keeping it legal as opposed to the obvious costs?

One must weigh as well the detriments, in this case the consequences of proclaiming women to be in need of protections generally reserved for those judged mentally incompetent.

Huh? What are you implying here? That if someone else publishes embarrassing material on you, that means you were mentally incompetent? Or that if you trust someone who later betrays you, you are also mentally incompetent? Or that if there even exists embarrassing pictures of you somewhere, you are mentally incompetent?

Also, when the fsck did this become a gender issue? I'm a guy, and I don't want others to maliciously post nude pics of me either, if they for some reason have gotten hold of any.

If the law were to protect women from the posting of photos stolen from them, or taken without their consent, this would be another matter.

Really, why? Why does it matter how they got hold of the pictures? Presumably, they were not given to the perpetrator with an implied consent to publish them openly on-line. Or is that what you argue; that if some girl shares intimate pictures of herself with you in confidence, perhaps because she cares about you and trusts you, you should have the implied right to break that confidence and do with them whatever you like for whatever reasons, even if the sole purpose is to harm her? Why is that so important to you?

Comment: Re:Hey Mr. "Open Book" anonymous jackass (Score 2) 252

by Alef (#45665321) Attached to: California Man Arrested for Running 'Revenge Porn' Website

You are oversimplifying human psychology. For one thing, the laws have a normative function apart from the practical cost/benefit equation of getting caught, and that also affects human behaviour. As are you the situation with the carpenters; someone might walk in on them, or I might have a camera, the effect of which is much greater when I have the support of the state to prosecute them if they steal.

I can recommend you to read Liars and Outliers, by Bruce Schneier, for an extensive treatment of how trust is created and works in modern society.

Saying "don't take nude pics if you don't want people seeing nude pics of you" doesn't really make an argument. My point is: why should we limit ourself to that narrow dichotomy when we don't need to? It's stupid and unnecessary. Sure people "are always going to do what feels good", including sharing nude pics of themselves to people they love in the expectation that they are kept private. Why should they be punished for it (by ridicule and shame) instead of (by law) the douche bag who intentionally and maliciously spread them? Yes, it's always going to be some risk having nude pics of you exist somewhere, obviously, but so what? You haven't really answered why you think it is such a good idea to allow revenge porn in the first place. Instead, you are blaming the victim, which I actually find rather distasteful -- a bit like "if you didn't want to get raped, why did you wear such a short skirt?".

Comment: Re:Hey Mr. "Open Book" anonymous jackass (Score 1) 252

by Alef (#45662967) Attached to: California Man Arrested for Running 'Revenge Porn' Website

No, most laws are not there to protect the weak. Some are, yes, but one of the primary purposes of law is to enable trust between individuals. This is what makes society function. If I own a house and hire carpenters to work on it, I can leave them working in the house while I go out, to a great extent because laws ensure that stealing from me is illegal. You could say that, well, you are a rational adult, and if you leave them there by themselves you can suit yourself if they nab stuff -- it's not society's role to prosecute them for it. And yes, we could build such a society. But it would be a completely dysfunctional one where the overhead for doing any kind of business transactions would be so large that the economy would probably collapse.

I really don't see what the benefit is of allowing idiots to upload nude pics they have gotten hold of, for everyone to see, with the purpose of revenge and causing humiliation. Why is that ever a good thing? Isn't it much better that men and women can have a reasonable trust (not perfect, but reasonable) in that whatever intimate things they record with their girlfriend or boyfriend won't at some later stage get published on the Internet against their will, backed by laws in the same way my possessions are when I hire carpenters?

Comment: Re:Well, isn't this nice (Score 1) 961

by Alef (#45529235) Attached to: Why Scott Adams Wished Death On His Dad

Explain to me, how is arguing against assisted suicide as opposed to switching to palliative treatment (which you can already request, and which normally leads to a painless death) the same thing as causing Scott Adams' father an awful death? I don't know the background, but it sounds to me more like Scott's father didn't make his will clear when he was able to, and now Scott is angry because society won't allow him to euthanise his father.

And if someone would dare to suggest that they actually like the idea of hospitals not being places of euthanasia, they don't deserve to live, and should die painfully?

Comment: Re:Well, isn't this nice (Score 1) 961

by Alef (#45528893) Attached to: Why Scott Adams Wished Death On His Dad

In most places, it is already legal to request that healthcare abstain from treating you or keeping you alive, and only give you morphine or other such substances to relieve pain and anxiety, which usually leads to a rather quick and painless death. Why is this not enough? And moreover, why does anyone suggesting that this is enough deserve a "fuckin painful death"? That if someone does not actively support legalising certain forms of killings, they shouldn't be allowed to live? Really, that is what you are saying.

I personally don't want it to be legal for anyone to kill me under any circumstances whatsoever. If you think I deserve a "fuckin painful death, asap" for simply making that argument, I recommend you go find some fascist dictatorship to live in where you belong.

Comment: Re:Two billion bucks... (Score 2) 304

by Alef (#45350281) Attached to: Microsoft Makes an Astonishing $2 Billion Per Year From Android Patent Royalties
I think "obvious to someone skilled in the art" is actually a lousy test. What's interesting is whether the invention will surface even without granting a state-sanctioned monopoly on it. If there is a million engineers worldwide working in a certain field, and an invention is non-obvious to 99% of them, there are still 10000 who could do something similar. To grant a single one of them a 20 year monopoly on it is hardly a win for society. It might have been different back in the olden days, when skilled engineers were actually rare.

Comment: Re:Entrapment (Score 3, Informative) 545

by Alef (#45339307) Attached to: Researchers Use Computer-Generated 10-Year-Old Girl To Catch Online Predators

To be entrapment, there must be a reason for the suspect to falsely believe their actions are legal on the part of someone associated with law enforcement [...]

Just a note: That isn't how the laws are written in all countries, though. In Sweden, for instance, it is illegal for the police to "provoke" someone to commit a crime, regardless of what the subject of the action believes or not. The idea is that it is not the job of the police to prosecute anyone with a potential to commit a crime, as that would probably include a large portion of the entire population, most of which would otherwise live peacefully their entire lives. Their job is only to step in when a crime is actually at hand; about to be committed or in progress. They are however allowed to actively facilitate an ongoing crime in order to gather more evidence, but that's where the line is drawn.

Comment: Re:hindsight doesn't make something obvious. (Score 1) 476

by Alef (#45303667) Attached to: Microsoft, Apple and Others Launch Huge Patent Strike at Android

Painfully obvious in hindsight. Why was it patented before google came into existence?

The relevant question for any sane person is: Would it have happened anyway?

What's interesting from a societal standpoint isn't whether an average engineer, at that particular time in history, would have thought of the same idea. What's interesting is whether the same "invention" will arise and gain society without the help of a state-granted monopoly. If Google's business model was crafted only a short while later, without them knowing about that particular patent (I don't know if that's the case), then that would strongly suggest that the patent doesn't benefit society, and should in principle be invalid, in my opinion.

The law may not agree, of course.

Comment: Re:Depends on the business (Score 1) 453

by Alef (#45303365) Attached to: 20-Somethings Think It's OK To Text and Answer Calls In Business Meetings
Yes, it may be appropriate to take a call in such situations, and it would then be accompanied with "I apologise, this is an important call, and I really need to take it" followed by the person leaving the room while taking it as to not disturb the others. People will understand and accept that if it's really the case, and you didn't plan for it to happen during the meeting. This is of course the same as with any situation -- there can always be exceptional circumstances that override what would normally be seen as appropriate social behaviour. I don't think that's what TFA is about, though.

Comment: Re:Really? (Score 1) 640

by Alef (#45254221) Attached to: Nebraska Scientists Refuse To Carry Out Climate Change-Denying Study

But that's what they are already doing! It's all about quantifying -- the primary mechanism has been known for some 150 years, the rest of it has been a long history of quantifying things, with increasing precision.

I challenge you to name a single credible objection relating to "natural changes" that hasn't been, or isn't being studied.

FORTRAN is for pipe stress freaks and crystallography weenies.