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Comment: Re:That's the market system... (Score 1) 161

by Altrag (#48033643) Attached to: Grooveshark Found Guilty of Massive Copyright Infringement

Actually, IP laws are an imposition of a market (the "free" qualifier is up for grabs) on an intangible. Without IP laws, there is no market at all as everyone would just copy everything for $0 (or very close to it. The physical media itself would still represent a market but that's too cheap to be self-sustaining.)

I fail to see how IP laws have anything to do with real wages or the environment (generally speaking.. a patent on a new windmill tech or such notwithstanding.)

Comment: Re:Funny, however.. (Score 1) 161

by Altrag (#48033593) Attached to: Grooveshark Found Guilty of Massive Copyright Infringement

you would need explicit permission to visit a random page prior to visiting said page

Sort of. You typically have permission but you have to assume it implicitly. Being made available (by the copyright owner!) on a public forum is generally a good indication of permission to view (which is not the same as permission to copy, deface, whatever.) Not a guarantee though. There are private websites out there (of course any smart private website will be locked behind technical barriers because legal barriers don't do much unless/until you're able to take someone to court.)

A music track on the other hand is (usually) NOT posted to a public forum.. or at least not by the copyright owner. If they have an inline listening applet on their website then you are most likely granted permission to listen to the song on their website. That does not grant you permission to download the song. If they have a "download this song!" button then you're most likely granted permission to download the song. But similarly, that doesn't imply you have permission to re-post the song elsewhere.

What a publisher decides to do with their copyright is not an all-or-nothing "it exists or it doesn't." You can be granted any number of various permissions. You are implicitly denied any permissions you aren't granted. Most professional websites will likely explicitly enumerate your permissions in a ToS somewhere just to avoid any legal argument of what constitutes an implicit permission.

99% of the time, common sense will tell you what's permitted just by the context. That might not be a strong enough argument for a court, but not being boneheaded and/or stubborn is a good start to not breaking copyright law. For the most part its pretty obvious when you're intentionally ripping off someone else's work, no matter what you say to justify it to yourself. (Though I am no way implying that current copyright law isn't boneheaded itself!)

Comment: Re:Start menu usage dropped in lieu of what? (Score 4, Interesting) 263

by Altrag (#48028807) Attached to: Microsoft's Asimov System To Monitor Users' Machines In Real Time

I'm guessing they noticed the start menu usage drop right after they made pinning to the task bar easy enough -- that covers probably 80-90% usage for most people if they pin the right programs.

What's amazing is that they thought the start menu lost its worth just because it lost much of its usage.

The win8 start page ended up being more of a glorified taskbar than a glorified start menu, both due to the unintuitive search interface (no indication that you should just start typing -- and the actual search icon is a different search of course) and the flattened folder structure (ie: if a program installs 14 icons into MyCompany\MyProgram under the old start menu, it now is 14 icons pasted directly onto your start page in amongst the icons from every other program you've installed.)

Navigating the win7 Start menu was relatively easy and intuitive. Navigating the win8 start page is pretty much the opposite of that. Its only really "easy" if the only things you ever use are the preinstalled software/icons/links (since its also reasonably unintuitive how to organize the start page. Not that the old start menu was much better for that but the existence of the folder structure tended to keep it from getting so cluttered that you absolutely needed to organize it given that it wasn't something you had to search through too often usually.)

Basically, it sounds mostly like they looked at the raw numbers and made a decision without bothering to check the cause of the usage drop (and more importantly, whether the remaining use cases were still relevant.) You would think the countless amount of bitching from the first day of the announcement forward (and who knows how much internal bitching by their own staff who would almost certainly have been subjected to it first) would have tipped them off but I guess not. Oh well, at least they seem to have learned their lesson for the moment.

Comment: Re:"Rest assured, the data is going to be obscured (Score 3, Informative) 263

by Altrag (#48028657) Attached to: Microsoft's Asimov System To Monitor Users' Machines In Real Time

The trick of course is knowing whether there's a secondary channel that they use to send the PII and associated hash that they wouldn't generally provide to anyone except say the NSA.

Of course a packet sniffer would find that out easily enough, and I'm guessing that someone would have already done so and let the world know if that was the case (and thus its probably not,) but simply being anonymized in the data you have doesn't directly imply that there isn't additional data somewhere capable of de-anonymizing it.

Comment: Re:Always (Score 1) 179

by Altrag (#47998469) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Is Reporting Still Relevant?

I'm thinking more subtle corruptions than "nothing works." Silently putting in Mar.1 instead of Feb.29 on a leap year because of some bad math and nobody noticed until November when the accountant starts reviewing for your end of year. If you just look at the dashboard, it will only reflect what's in the database. On the other hand if you go back and pull the Feb.29 and Mar.1 reports, you (may) be able to distinguish the data from each day in order to manually correct the records.

Comment: Always (Score 1) 179

by Altrag (#47995989) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Is Reporting Still Relevant?

Reports will always be needed. A dashboard has a sense of impermanence, and rightly so -- if the backend database gets corrupted, then your dashboard isn't going to show the same thing today that it showed yesterday, even for the exact same filter options.

Add to that the ability to do things like highlight lines/items as you go through and all the other tricks humans have built up over the past few thousand years for dealing with paper, many of which are only kind of functional in even the best e-readers never mind some random dashboard and yes, reports are definitely needed.

That said, there is definitely still an overabundance of reporting when not needed. Run a whole report to look up the current price of a single item? Yeah that happens and then is immediately discarded once the information is obtained. That type of "reporting" is definitely a complete waste of time and paper but that's more an issue of stupid people not using the tools available to them than the tools being wrong or bad.

Basically any time you have some piece of data that the accountant might need come end of year, a report is going to be necessary.

A good halfway point seems to be PDFs (or similar.) They're dissociated from the underlying database unlike a dashboard (that is, the data will never change -- or if it does, chances are the entire PDF is corrupt) while at the same time still remaining electronic and not wasting a bunch of paper. It doesn't help the highlighting aspect for reports that someone actually reviews, but for many end-of-day and similar reports that "must" exist but only get looked at when there's a problem, PDF works wonders.

Comment: Re:Don't complain... (Score 2) 212

by Altrag (#47991305) Attached to: Australian Senate Introduces Laws To Allow Total Internet Surveillance

That's a very US-centric view of the terms "left" and "right." Broadly speaking, the left tends to be more liberal (power to the people) while the right tends to be more conservative (power to those already in power.)

Of course how those views end up being delineated changes greatly from country to country and across time. In the current US, the government is the only significant entity that even claims to be "for the people" so its unsurprising that the left down there is in favor of larger government. The right tends to favor corporate/economic power because that's what rules the roost for the most part.

But in terms of the rest of the world, the left and right are not always defined the same way as they are in the US. Up here in Canada for example, the right (ie: Harper currently) just loooooves expanding government power. Oh he's all cool with deregulating industry and letting them trash our environment and economy, but at the same time he's attempting to tack on all sorts of new government powers with little responsibility or oversight, including legislation very similar to what TFA is talking about (he's on his third or fourth attempt at ramming that crap down our throats so far.) The left on the other hand tends to focus primarily on the unions. They generally beef up existing social programs of course as you would expect but most of their focus tends to be on expanding the power of unions (as an indirect "for the people") rather than the power of government.

And obviously I'm talking in huge generalities.. even Harper's managed to accidentally do some good here and there. Very few things are ever black and white when they affect millions of people who all have differing views on everything.

Comment: Re:There is no political solution. (Score 4, Interesting) 212

by Altrag (#47991241) Attached to: Australian Senate Introduces Laws To Allow Total Internet Surveillance

Its not an engineering problem. The engineering's been done. We know how to lock shit down very well if we try. The problem is we don't try.

Its really a social problem. Facebook is to your privacy what a post-it note is to your password. And people love them some Facebook (or Twitter or Snapchat or whatever the popular site is this year.)

Until a majority of users start either using privacy measures on a technical level or pushing for privacy protection on a political level, all of the engineering in the world does a big wad of fuck all because nobody's willing (or allowed) to actually use it.

Apple (and Google shortly after) recently decided to lock down their phones out of the box. This is the kind of political push we need -- they're willing to stand up to the government's requests for privacy invasion and at the same time, not significantly impacting day-to-day use of their devices by regular users who only barely know what they've heard on the news regarding the political side of the story and know nothing of the technical side.

Of course who knows how long it will be before some government somewhere decides that this isn't cool and forces Apple/Google to either turn off the default encryption or provide a back door (which is worse really.. hackers are smart and if there's a back door they'll find it eventually -- exposing everyone instead of just those who don't know/care enough to turn on the encryption manually.) China for example doesn't seem like the kind of country that would take "well we can't actually do that" as a valid answer more than once (if that.)

The first Rotarian was the first man to call John the Baptist "Jack." -- H.L. Mencken