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Comment: Re:Turn it around: (Score 3, Insightful) 85

The man is a freaking icon of free speech. Only hateful, harmful, ugly, disagreeable speech needs any protection in the first place. I can't think of a living speaker who offends my more than that guy has. If you don't support his right to free speech, you're simply unclear on the concept.

That's not a two way street. Just because all the speech that needs protecting offends someone doesn't mean all offensive speech should have protection. Threats, libel, slander, fraud and perjury are all forms of speech. Playing loud music at 3AM is arguably a form of expression. The "freedom of speech" card is not absolute in any country on earth, even the US.

Comment: Re:Adding Politics to Engineering Decisions (Score 1) 138

by Kjella (#47734171) Attached to: Google Wants To Test Driverless Cars In a Simulation

You really think this is solely an engineering decision? I'm guessing this is just as much if not more a business decision. We could have real world testing which is expensive where unexpected quirks and flaws could be revealed or we could have simulations which are cheap and quite confined to whatever it is the scenario is testing. Everyone in suits would go with simulations, while engineers know that models are abstractions and simplifications of reality.

Don't get me wrong, I'm sure they do a ton of simulation and regression testing and as a design tool it's invaluable. To use a car analogy I really doubt cars come rolling off the assembly line without some prototyping and real world tests first though. Remember that those affected by regulations tend to have really deep economic interests in skirting those regulations as much as possible.

Comment: Re:Variation in online reviews (Score 2) 100

by Kjella (#47733989) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Where Can I Find Good Replacement Batteries?

If it's a big shop with tons of review it won't prevent this particular product from being a lemon. I recently had that happen to me on eBay, 99.5% approval rating and >100k feedback score but product was real bad. They delisted it after I complained. At any rate, I wish Amazon would split it into "Product reviews" and "Vendor reviews", because a lot of the feedback is about bad customer service that's entirely irrelevant if you buy from a different seller.

Comment: Re:Free market (Score 1) 216

by Kjella (#47733901) Attached to: When Customer Dissatisfaction Is a Tech Business Model

It's the same attitude you may have noticed that come from people who defend socialism but when confronted with the flaws of the Soviet Union, Maoist China, or Cuba will claim that those were, nor are, not under real socialism, but something else (tsarism, in the case of Russia).

It's the same attitude you may have noticed that come from people who defend libertarianism but when confronted with the flaws of Somalia will claim that those were, nor are, not under real libertarianism, but something else (anarchy, in the case of Somalia).

The truth is, people game any system. They want that cushy job, that fat pay check, the easy life. Any form of organization whether it's corporate, government, non-profit or otherwise end up serving at least three distinct interests. The one they're supposed to serve, sure. The actual people working in that system, they all want theirs. And finally the system itself, the government wants to expand the government's powers.

Incentives are flawed. Checks and balances are flawed. But perfect is the enemy of good, because the alternative to not keeping those forces at bay is exploitation. Inevitably, when there's no power structures they create themselves, anything from gangs to warlords to conglomerates to oligarchies. The idea of an egalitarian society where everyone is equal and power doesn't concentrate is like a world with gravity where matter won't clump together.

There's a reason why Churchill said "Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time." I think the same can be said of capitalism, there's hardly any problem finding faults with it. The problem is finding a better system that works in the real world with real people and not some idealized form for an idealized people. Ideology is always clean and academic, the actual implementation is always messy.

Comment: Re:Not my kind of person. (Score 1) 403

by Kjella (#47731235) Attached to: 33 Months In Prison For Recording a Movie In a Theater

It sends the message that intangible property is still property.

Work is still work even if the result isn't property, if somebody wants software to do X which doesn't exist they have to either pay someone to write it or write it themselves. My current job would still exist if copyright disappeared tomorrow. As would any other system built for internal use or one particular client, all the consulting services around making it work and so on. Or that are centered around controlled services like an MMORPG. Yes, COTS software as we know it would basically implode but I'm guessing that in its absence we'd see Kickstarter or "hostage" funding, basically it's already written but we want a sum to give it away, probably with a lot of smaller and more incremental improvements. After all, the world won't stop needing software and it won't write itself.

That's the way other markets work, the electrician is paid for the work not the kilowatts, the plumber as well not by the cubic meter. Being able to shamelessly copy each other has its benefits too, it might curb innovation but it also lets everyone use the best, most popular and easy to use solutions rather than worrying about patent lawsuits and seeking out inferior alternatives to work around them. Actually being the first to sell something tends to give you a pretty good edge even if you have cloners who'll copy your magic, particularly if you're thinking hardware/software combinations. It would be different, but I think we'd be okay. In the vacuum left companies would probably be more willing to spend money on tweaking OSS tools to their uses too.

Comment: Re:And how long does it take... (Score 1) 175

by Kjella (#47725609) Attached to: How Does Tesla Build a Supercharger Charging Site?

Replace all the cars on the long-distance highway with EVs and you'll need a service station about an order of magnitude larger in size (i.e. your typical 12-pump gas station becomes a parking lot with over 100 chargers). Hydrocarbon fuels have their advantages and high energy density is one of them.

Assuming you know you're going on a long trip and start out with full battery you should have a 250 mile range starting out. Top it off with 150 extra and you can go 400 miles with half an hour of downtime, I don't know about you but I wouldn't drive that far in one stretch anyway, so it would be taking up a parking spot while I eat anyway. Sure, technically it's more tanking and less parking but the car takes up the same space anyway.

Also most of the time most people (who consider getting an EV anyway) will have a gas station in their garage/parking spot, which happens to be where it was going to stand anyway so it consumes zero extra space. Despite the efficiency difference there'd probably be less space spent on gas stations in inner cities. It'd probably become an add-on service for malls and parking garage top off your car while you're shopping.

Comment: Re:Pick a different job. (Score 1) 531

by Kjella (#47723859) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Do You Wish You'd Known Starting Out As a Programmer?

One of the most difficult things I've had to come to accept as a developer is: If you see a 'clever' way to solve something, STOP. The sad fact is most programmers work on programming teams and you need to absolutely view yourself as expendable. Embrace mediocrity and find another outlet for your creativity. This could be personal projects outside of the workplace, or other hobbies altogether.

I don't write mediocre code, I write smart code which is something else entirely than being "clever". With a certain amount of hubris I'll say that I don't think I've ever written really bad code at the micro-level. However, I used to write a lot more code which disregarded encapsulation, separation of concerns, side effects, poor function and variable naming, anti-patterns and so on. And if I wrote enough of it then it resembled spaghetti code, it lacked the structure, abstractions and layers to make it clean and easy to maintain. I still suck at writing high level documentation but at least when people jump into my code they usually praise it for being easy to follow. That's much harder than it looks.

Comment: Re:That's it? (Score 1) 537

by Kjella (#47721181) Attached to: Study: Ad-Free Internet Would Cost Everyone $230-a-Year

Let's for the sake of argument assume that every site has subscription/micro-payment options and that they don't care where the money comes from so the ad free cost equals their ad revenue. And that it's so convenient and secure it's basically transparent, you pay $230/year and all your ads go away. And let's forget that we'd essentially be competing with the ad industry, probably causing a price spike. The underlying issue at least according to this survey is that no matter what, people don't want to pay that much.

I'm not surprised, a lot of people become extremely stingy online. I remember all the bitching that iTunes charged you 99c for a hit track, when the other legal alternatives were much, much worse. A lot of people swore to downloading MP3s to save money. I think a lot of it is that on the Internet, nobody can see that you're poor or a cheapskate. Nobody knows that your water cooler talk came from something you downloaded from TPB rather than premium cable. I just checked /. subscription options and I could pay $5 for 1000 ad free pages, do I? Nope. If I extrapolate then $230 should be 46000 web pages, no doubt I could pay my way to an ad free web.

Comment: Re:Why focus on the desktop? (Score 3, Insightful) 690

by Kjella (#47715163) Attached to: Linus Torvalds: 'I Still Want the Desktop'

Well first of all Linus has never been overly concerned with market share, just building a technically damn good kernel so I doubt this will have much practical influence on his work. It's got to be frustrating though, Linux works on massively huge and complex servers. It works on the smallest mobile and embedded devices. But a regular desktop that from the kernel's side is rather simple, one CPU and usually one GPU and pretty much no exotic devices (from the kernel side all USB devices look the same, for example) and no absurd limits being pushed in any direction.

I think the last real significant desktop feature was when they increased interactivity by changing the default time slice from 100 Hz to 1000 Hz and that was in 2004 or so. Heck, I would say it was at least as ready as the BSD kernel was when Apple created OS X in 2001. It's quite telling that the one thing Google did not want to rewrite when they made Android was the kernel. All else they ripped out and replaced with Apache licensed code, but not that. Well that and a bunch of Google proprietary APIs, but that's another flame war. I think I'd feel just the same in his shoes.

Comment: Re:or they could just NOT do it (Score 1) 155

by Kjella (#47714469) Attached to: Google Receives Takedown Request Every 8 Milliseconds

Sure, but they're not hosting anything. Links to infringing content are pretty solidly in the realm of the legal. It's actually kind of weird that they rolled over on that one.

They're solidly in the realm of the legal in the US because of USC 17 512(d):

(d) Information Location Tools.- A service provider shall not be liable for monetary relief, or, except as provided in subsection (j), for injunctive or other equitable relief, for infringement of copyright by reason of the provider referring or linking users to an online location containing infringing material or infringing activity, by using information location tools, including a directory, index, reference, pointer, or hypertext link, if the service provider:
(C) upon obtaining such knowledge or awareness, acts expeditiously to remove, or disable access to, the material;

If they don't respond to DMCA notices they fail condition (C) and become liable. This has been established legal history since way back when web pages used to link to illegal MP3 files, perhaps longer. It's not true in the general case, just because you point them to other website that might contain something illegal won't get you into trouble. But pointing directly to infringing content and claiming you aren't liable because you're not the one hosting it doesn't fly.

Man is the best computer we can put aboard a spacecraft ... and the only one that can be mass produced with unskilled labor. -- Wernher von Braun