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Comment: UK regulations (Score 1) 109

by Anonymous Brave Guy (#47955015) Attached to: Star Wars Producers Want a 'DroneShield' To Prevent Leaks On Set

I would guess these drones are not flying LOS, therefore disrupting video and telemetry would make it very difficult for a drone operator to effectively maneuver, make any interesting video, and even return the drone back to safety.

This is in the UK, where there are clear legal requirements if you want to operate a drone. People can be and have been prosecuted for violating them.

So it is highly unlikely that any such drones were flying without LOS at close range or that they would be used by any reputable commercial surveillance firm without permission. As the cases mentioned above demonstrate, someone who violates the rules may well wind up in court with a hefty fine, and the authorities aren't going to look sympathetically on any excuses about losing control of the aircraft or being somewhere it shouldn't be accidentally.

By the way, responding to drones by disrupting frequencies using jammers as you suggested would, as a minimum, probably land you in hot water with the communications regulators yourself.

Comment: Re:The Drone Wars (Score 1) 109

by Anonymous Brave Guy (#47954935) Attached to: Star Wars Producers Want a 'DroneShield' To Prevent Leaks On Set

Plot twist: This is all a big double bluff, and they deliberately set up both the familiar-looking ships and "unexpected" delay in the "shield" that would prevent the leaks. Meanwhile, the real models are being filmed on interior sets no-one knows about at a studio far, far away...

Comment: Re:Change Jobs (Score 1) 249

That is IMHO a much more realistic view. Conflating management with technical leadership is a sure path to bad things happening. Certainly some people can do both, but for any given project at any given time, everyone should know what their current role is.

To answer the original question, I think you can sum up the cause of a lot of programmer fatigue very easily: they got into programming out of a desire to create things, and they found themselves surrounded by a (bad) organisational culture where they instead spend their work time doing anything but create things.

It's not the need for a degree of administration and management that is the problem. Most programmers understand this, and will happily go along with it when it's helpful for the project as a whole. Nor is it the need to create something that serves the needs of the project, even if that isn't the most fun job to do right now. Again, I think most programmers understand that if you're working as a professional then you're being hired to make something that is useful/valuable for someone else, and as long as what they're making is in that category it can be satisfying.

But most programmers are also acutely sensitive to overheads that are unhelpful and requirements that are unnecessary -- not that they really need to be if they're at the kind of shop where those overheads take up most of their time. Geeks will rapidly lose enthusiasm in the face of uninspiring leadership, lack of project progress, and generally incompetent management, and often I suspect it really is as simple as that.

Comment: Re:So everything is protected by a 4 digit passcod (Score 1) 501

by Anonymous Brave Guy (#47940045) Attached to: Apple Will No Longer Unlock Most iPhones, iPads For Police

If they want it to be admissible in court, then it doesn't work so well.

The trouble with that argument is that it relies on legal rather than technical barriers, and the same guys who want to get you (generic "you") are the ones making the laws.

For example, right now in the UK, the law is effectively that you can be required to provide either decrypted data or the encryption keys to various authorities, and if you don't then that is in itself an offence that can in theory get you two years in jail. Naturally this is controversial, because like many laws relating to privacy and surveillance there clearly are real dangers that the law could help to protect against but there are also real civil liberties concerns.

Regardless of the ethics of the situation, right now that is what the law in my country says. They don't need a £5 wrench, and they don't need evidence gained using that wrench to be admissible in court. All they need, essentially, is suspicion and your silence.

Comment: Symmetric gameplay is all we get now (Score 1) 291

by Anonymous Brave Guy (#47916435) Attached to: The Growing Illusion of Single Player Gaming

I find many games where the AI is just too dumb for it to be fun. Overall, it's not smart, and it works for a casual player, but for hardcore games, it's just too dumb.

I agree. The thing is, I'm not a 19 year old student any more. I don't want to be a hardcore gamer today. I don't have time to learn FPS maps well enough to navigate them with my eyes closed and still lob a grenade/rocket everywhere the respawn/power-up/camper is likely to be. I can't sustain multiple keyboard/mouse actions per second over a half-hour RTS game. I have no interest in playing against an arena where 1 in 3 opponents is a bot that never misses, nor installing so much mandatory crapware to prevent this on my computer that something outside the game breaks.

For symmetric competitive games, things like arena-based FPS or RTS genres, the "single player" has been going up against bots on PCs since at least the days of Quake 3 Arena, which was around the turn of the century. The big RTSes of that era often had some sort of contrived plot and a series of preplanned missions, but the replay value as a single player was all in open gaming against bots. In each case, playing against real people on-line was always the natural successor; this is not a new thing.

But there used to be asymmetric games as well, where the storyline and gameworld made for a much more compelling experience that could feel more like being in an interactive movie than playing round 17 of laser tag. Classics like the Baldur's Gate series or the original Deus Ex come immediately to mind. They avoided the boredom of facing what you called "pattern AIs" by having actual progression through the game, so the situations and capabilities you'd face would be changing. You can't really do this in a multiplayer gameworld when everyone wants to start with everything and the game only ships with 2 maps. (*97 more maps are available as DLC. Payment required.)

AIs have improved since those days anyway, but the biggest problem for single-player gaming is that the industry has so completely given up on games that require actual progression and development that fighting AIs on the same handful of maps is all the replay value they've got.

Comment: Re:Well now. (Score 1) 102

The argument about committing crime being outlawed would be more convincing if basic copyright infringement were treated as a crime and was actually investigated and punished in some proportionate way by the authorities when it occurs. The reality is that copyright is in most cases a civil matter, which means that while the cumulative damage to a genuine victim can be significant, they are essentially responsible for their own protection, without any police or public prosecutors to help them the way a victim of say theft or fraud would have. And the costs of bringing an action to recover losses are disproportionate in most cases, because copyright infringement kills with a thousand cuts.

Also, we're talking about the EU. Everything your wrote about fair use doesn't apply here. We tend to have more specific exemptions to copyright in our national laws in Europe, often including certain special privileges for libraries because of their unique public service role, and that is the matter at hand.

Comment: Re:Well now. (Score 2) 102

The thing is, as many a Slashdotter has pointed out, you can't accomplish the same thing virtually. If you let people download material from a library then there are only two realistic options. One is that you provide the material with huge amounts of DRM and interfere with readers' own systems in dubious ways. The other is that you create a blatant avenue for copyright infringement and inherently give it special legal blessing that is intended to protect the public resource of a library for entirely different reasons. It is highly unlikely that libraries would support the former, and there is no way the latter was going to fly legally.

Comment: Re:Anthropometrics (Score 2) 818

I would agree with you, except that a free and competitive market can only work this way if it's also an informed market.

If you can lawfully sell someone a ticket for a flight, which they purchase with reasonable expectations in terms of promptness, comfort or whatever else, and you can then fail to meet the customer's reasonable expectations when they bought their ticket without their having any recourse, then you aren't really in a competitive market at all. The customer has no way to know when, or how, to vote with their wallet.

You can certainly make a reasonable argument that this is more about transparency and advertising standards than it is about needing heavyweight industry regulation, but either way the current market dynamics evidently are not sufficient to protect the customer alone.

Comment: Re:One Sure Way (Score 1) 275

by Anonymous Brave Guy (#47876969) Attached to: California Tells Businesses: Stop Trying To Ban Consumer Reviews

I don't have a fancy name for it. For essentials like shoes and food I'm lucky enough to have plenty in the bank these days to buy what I need, so I have the luxury of choosing quality without sacrificing timeliness. But for something that costs a significant amount by whatever my financial standards are today, I'd rather wait and buy something good.

Comment: Re:One Sure Way (Score 1) 275

by Anonymous Brave Guy (#47876171) Attached to: California Tells Businesses: Stop Trying To Ban Consumer Reviews

Perhaps you'll find a company out there that can afford to not skimp monetarily and yet compete at the same time, but I seriously doubt it.

Why? I for one will happily pay a higher price, even a much higher one, for good quality and service. I don't think this costs as much as it seems, because for example a good pair of shoes will last much longer than a bad pair that you'll have to replace much sooner. In any case, I prioritise value for money over cost, so for any non-essentials I'll usually prefer to save up for something nicer than buy cheap consumer tat that I won't really enjoy or find useful.

Comment: As a BBC "customer" in the UK... (Score 5, Interesting) 363

by Anonymous Brave Guy (#47860573) Attached to: BBC: ISPs Should Assume VPN Users Are Pirates

The irony of this discussion is that as someone who lives in the UK and pays his licence fee, I still sometimes run into content on the BBC that I'm told I'm not allowed to see because I live in the wrong place.

This is why I lack much sympathy for the Beeb when people use VPNs and the like to circumvent geographical restrictions. I do understand that there are commercial agreements and licensing conditions at work here, and I do understand that the BBC Worldwide commercial arm is not the same as the BBC itself (though it is a wholly owned subsidiary).

Just to be clear, I think the BBC is a borderline national treasure. It is certainly not perfect, but the range and quality of programming it has produced over the years is so much better than the apparent norm on commercial television channels that I pay my licence fee gladly, even if it is a bizarre pseudo-tax based on archaic rules about who has to contribute.

However, if you're going to take primarily public funding, with only a relatively small amount coming from BBC Worldwide's commercial activities, then not sharing the results with those members of the public who are paying your bills is not on, IMHO.

Comment: Re:Anthropometrics (Score 1) 818

Keep saying it's the people's fault, and they'll keep squeezing until they find your particular threshold.

Which is an argument ethically akin to car companies knowing they have a potentially fatal defect but weighing up the cost of actually fixing it and saving lives vs. the expected cost of compensation lawsuits and not fixing it if the latter is lower.

The solution, of course, is to structure the law and/or regulate the industry so that the cost of screwing people unreasonably is always substantially greater than the cost of behaving more appropriately. Passenger suffered unreasonable discomfort on any flight? Automatic 100% refund, with a presumption in favour of the passenger if your provision is significantly below the industry average (or minimum regulated standards if the industry colludes to reduce the average).

Comment: Re:Anthropometrics (Score 1) 818

I would have a lot more sympathy if budget airlines didn't keep pulling so many obviously shady moves to try to look cheap yet acceptable quality while actually charging more that customers expected and not always offering the experience people thought they were buying. This has become so bad that we literally have new consumer protection laws taking effect in Europe around now precisely to make a bunch of the tricks that some of these airlines pull explicitly illegal.

It should have been a reasonable and simple solution to offer transparent pricing and mid-range options, but I think that ship sailed^W^Wplane departed already. Now the industry, particularly on the budget end, needs to clean up its act or face increasing levels of customer dissatisfaction at a time when people are already looking to alternatives where viable ones exist.

"The chain which can be yanked is not the eternal chain." -- G. Fitch