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Journal: Sorry I haven't written...

Journal by mcgrew

I have two new stories nearly finished, but I've decided to see if I can sell first publication rights to a magazine. If everyone rejects them, I'll post them then. If one is accepted, it will likely be quite a while before I can post.

Comment: He ain't pretty no more (Score 1) 42

by PopeRatzo (#49551755) Attached to: Vizio, Destroyer of Patent Trolls

Whenever I hear of a story like this, I am reminded of the scene in Martin Scorsese's great movie, Raging Bull, in which Jake LaMotta, played by Robert DiNiro, speaks of an upcoming opponent to an associate:

"I'll put yous both in the ring and give yous both a fuckin' beatin', then yous can both fuck each other!"

Haven't we lost enough to the stupidity of our intellectual property laws? Could it be time to revisit whether or not they're actually doing what they were meant to do?
 

Comment: Re:Solar rarely enough for the whole house (Score 1) 202

by dgatwood (#49551131) Attached to: Tesla To Announce Battery-Based Energy Storage For Homes

And 48kWh, which is cited above as "about average", means, no home-servers running 24x7 (about 200Watts*24h=4.8kWh — or 10% more than the estimate — per server), no super-duper Christmas lights [komar.org], and other limitations...

My home server runs 24x7. It draws 11W when idling, or about 264 watt-hours per day, and the current versions draw barely half that. Compared with heating and cooling, the server is lost in the noise. Unless you're serving a site that absolutely requires staggering amounts of computing power or desktop-sized hard drives, might I suggest you consider more power-efficient server hardware?

If I were still using such an ancient 200W horror, replacing it with a 6W server would save me almost $650 annually at my current PG&E rate. In other words, the new hardware would be basically free after the first year or so.

Comment: Re:Cloudfare blocks Tor (Score 2) 108

by dgatwood (#49551071) Attached to: Pirate Bay Blockade Censors CloudFlare Customers

Cloudfare blocks Tor exit nodes heavily; you have to fill out a captcha almost every other page refresh. It makes it almost impossible to navigate a website.

CloudFlare blocks any IP address that sends an insane number of page hits in a short period of time, because the vast majority of those IPs are being used by automated bots running on sites like Amazon EC2 to scan websites and post spam links en masse. There's no good way for CloudFlare to tell the difference.

And yeah, that policy is problematic. It caused me to endure a protracted back-and-forth with Amazon over getting my affiliate account activated, because CloudFlare was treating Amazon's web crawler bot's IP range as a potential spammer and showing it a captcha page for every result.

That seems incompatible with your distaste for "kowtowing to the enemies of freedom" and trying to allow customers access to your books even if a government doesn't want them to have access.

There's also a decided benefit to blocking web-posting mass spammers, and although the captchas are annoying, they don't prevent you from using the site entirely; they merely make it a pain in the backside. On balance, although it isn't ideal, it is acceptable, IMO, because A. it is trivial for end users to get around and thus is not a true block, and B. it serves a very useful purpose in the default case while causing a hassle for only a tiny fraction of a percent of the site's users (at most).

(Incidentally, the book thing was purely hypothetical; my books are pretty tame.)

Comment: Re: and... (Score 1) 202

by TheRaven64 (#49551027) Attached to: Tesla To Announce Battery-Based Energy Storage For Homes
It obviously can be done, the question is whether it makes financial sense. It seems that, if it were cost-efficient to store electricity in LiIon batteries then the biggest buyers of them would be power companies, so maybe there's some market inefficiency that you can exploit by doing it in customers houses, but it even with that it sounds like it will have a very long ROI. I pay about £400/year for electricity (about $600). A $13K battery storage array would cost me the same as almost 22 years of electricity. Even if it reduced my electricity bills to zero, it would take 22 years for it to pay for itself. I think the overnight rate, if I switch to a tariff that has one, is about half of the normal rate, so it would actually take 44 years. Probably a bit less as electricity prices are likely to go up over the next few decades, but even with a 20 year ROI there are far better uses of my money.

Comment: Re:Human Shield? (Score 1) 108

by dgatwood (#49551015) Attached to: Pirate Bay Blockade Censors CloudFlare Customers

In any case, you're asking the wrong questions. You're looking at it from the perspective of one of those big cloud providers. The truth is, the big players can't protect your site. The big players have too much to lose. If you want your site protected, you can not go to the cloud.

On the other hand, the big players are also the only ones that can protect the site. The small players who have nothing to lose will just get blocked and won't have enough pull to do anything about it. They'll have no choice but to bend to any random government's demands if they want to avoid their entire IP range getting blocked en masse. Only a company that is big enough to serve real companies' content can be even slightly effective at protecting you against bullying by world governments.

So basically, when you combine that fact with your statement, you end up with a world in which there can be no protection from free speech, because the only companies big enough to defend it have too much to lose, and thus cannot afford to do so. In effect, the world's free speech becomes limited to the lowest common denominator—to content that complies with the strictest limits of all of the strictest sets of laws in the world. I know that's what the leadership of those countries would like, but it is simply too high a price.

IMO, what is needed is a U.S. law that says that any U.S. company, being an entity that exists solely at the pleasure of the U.S. government, can be fined for not preserving, protecting, and defending the Constitution, including the first amendment, against all threats, foreign and domestic. That would at least provide a counterweight—a punishment for bending too far.

In the absence of that, though, the CDNs need to step up on their own. They need to stand up for free speech, and they need to defend their presumed innocence as a blind cache by requiring that all legal actions be taken against the original site directly, and by taking steps to make it painful for anyone who tries to make an end run around that policy. It is a legally defensible position to hold, and more importantly, it is the only morally and ethically reasonable position to hold. All other positions are a slippery slope that eventually leads to blocking speech that truly deserves defending.

Comment: Re:Human Shield? (Score 1) 108

by dgatwood (#49550949) Attached to: Pirate Bay Blockade Censors CloudFlare Customers

Cloudflare could serve from different IPs if they wanted to but don't. That's what I mean by "human shield". Shield infringing material with non-infringing material. That is much the same as shielding combatants with non-combatants.

Except it isn't. As a rule, nobody dies if a cat pictures website gets blocked. Financial loss and human loss are two very different things to most people.

Besides, what determines whether something is infringing: the U.S.'s insane copyright laws, China's lax copyright laws, or something in the middle? There is no one worldwide standard for what is and is not protected by copyright. As soon as you allow one country to hold you hostage over copyright, you allow any country to do so, no matter how absurd their laws might be.

User-created content, for example, is protected by copyright in the U.S. What happens when some country takes that one step further and demands that site owners pay users every time the sites show their user-contributed content? It would be insanity, but there's nothing preventing a country from passing such a law, and if you aren't really careful with your licensing terms, it could even happen in the U.S. under U.S. copyright law.

The moment someone sues for an injunction, there would be millions of websites around the globe that would be technically violating copyright laws, and blocking all the sites that do so would also be very directly blocking free speech. Thus, as you can see, by allowing a caching-only service to be the arbiter for copyright law rather than requiring the aggrieved party to take legal action against the original site, you're just a hair's breadth away from throwing all free speech under the bus.

Comment: Re:Human Shield? (Score 1) 108

by dgatwood (#49550891) Attached to: Pirate Bay Blockade Censors CloudFlare Customers

Sorry but "sharing" artistic works that can be purchased elsewhere is not speech.

Even as someone who makes most of his income off of intellectual property, I consider that a ridiculous claim. Speech is the dissemination of information, period, full stop. Therefore disseminating information about where you can download something is speech. The fact that the download is illegal in most of the world doesn't change that, nor does the fact that the download is (arguably) immoral and unethical change that.

The moment you start deciding that one thing is speech and another isn't, regardless of your personal views on the merits of that speech, you begin running headlong towards despotism. This isn't to say that you must tolerate all forms of speech on your own sites, but there's a big difference between that and a government—any government—making that decision for you.

Unix is the worst operating system; except for all others. -- Berry Kercheval

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