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Comment: Re:Goldman Sachs and possible GPL Violations? (Score 1) 49

Why would the EFF be involved? They're not "the protectors of all technology", there has to be someone whose rights they'd be defending. That would be the owner of the open source, or possibly free software, copyrights. And given that the first case the EFF ever helped litigate was against the US Secret Service, and that the lawyer involved is still there, I think they'd be willing to take on Goldman Sachs if needed.

Unfortunately, none of the copyrights or of open source or 'copylefts' of "free as in speech" software require returning your modifications to the world at large. You _only_ have to provide them, if asked, to the client you wrote them for or provide binaries for, and that requirement applies only to "free software", not to most "open source". The open source licenses generally _deliberately_ allow you to proprietize your personal version of the software, and do not require you to publish changes, precisely so that the "business model" of providing your own secret enhancements can continue. This is the core of a great many open source projects funding, including Citrix Xen, Zmanda, and Sun Microsystems before Oracle bought them.

This one way relationship with free software is extremely common, especially in the financial software community. I and my colleagues are considered fairly odd because we publish our patches, and send them upstream to the code authors. We sometimes have real difficulty negotiating IP clauses in contracts with others because they do not understand, or profoundly fear, the practice. And the difficulty is not with the engineers doing the work. It's with their own lawyers, frightened of providing any information which could be used as any kind of leverage at all in any other case, and their managers, who argue that if they are not _compelled_ to, why should they provide this assistance to competitors?

My team tries to sell it on the basis of supportability. If they patches and improvements get published upstream, other eyes can enhance it, they don't have to maintain and keep spending resources to maintain their own in-house fork, and upsream changes are much less likely to become incompatible with their in-house changes. Then, if necessary, we point out examples, ideally with software they're already using. But it wastes a lot of early setup time getting this negotiated.

Comment: Re:Cost of Programmers Cost of Engines (Score 1) 102

by Antique Geekmeister (#49604229) Attached to: Should Developers Still Pay For Game Engines?

I can think of half a dozen companies I worked with in the last decade, all of whom thought they'd re-invented network protocols. All of them found that by the time they'd implemented necessary error correction, buffering, and re-transmit protocols for missed data that they'd actually _lost_ performance. It never showed up in the early testing because the inexperienced, "key developer" didn't know the history or the available technologies, so they'd never tested it under realistic circumstances.

Comment: Re:AT&T customer uses $24,298.93 in services (Score 2) 205

This isn't an errant bill or anything. The person called long distance that much in two months.

Wow does that bring back memories. For those who weren't around in the dialup days, certain malware would change the default dialup number for your modem to a 900 number (where you're charged per minute, like phone sex services use), which would then redial to AOL or whatever number you were trying to connect to. So you wouldn't notice anything was amiss because you'd still connect to AOL like usual, but you'd be racking up phone charges at $3/min.

After the government cracked down on phone companies which provided the 900 numbers used this way, the problem mostly disappeared for U.S. numbers. The malware switched to making the modem dial the equivalent of a 900 number in a foreign country.

It sounds like he got hit by this type of malware.

This also brings up something I've always wondered about. The power companies I've worked with seem to bend over backwards to get you onto the plan which most benefits you. When the electricity consumption at my business changed dramatically, Edison sent a guy over to talk with us to figure out what caused the change, and how to adjust our equipment and power plan to minimize our cost. Why does the power company do this, while the phone company seems content to leave you on a plan where you're paying more for worse service? I type Woodland Hills, CA DSL into Google, and it says that 6 Mbps AT&T U-verse/DSL is available there for just $34.95/mo.

Comment: Re:"long distance" (Score 1) 205

Having their billing system trigger a flag when it hits 10x the usual cost and halt access and red flag for support to call them when it hits 100x is NOT hard or invasive.

"Halting access" would mean cutting off their landline service. That is _not_ something to do lightly to someone in the midst of their personal or business crisis.

Comment: Re:"long distance" (Score 2) 205

Many people in the USA live in remote areas with no good cell coverage and no cable or fiber optic. And that $50/month undoubtedly includes unrestricted local calls, which is why his previous always-on AOL usage was not increasing his bill.

There used to be good commercial reasons for AT&T to monitor for this sort of thing. It was tying up long distance trunk lines nearly 24x7 for a month, and those used to be radically more expensive and less available than local connections. It required an actual physical copper connection from one part of the country to the other, maintained 24x7 with significant electrical and maintenance costs. But today, with all the different ISP's and phone services handling Voice Over IP instead and making much larger data connections, a single landline phone connection is a few packets lost in the flood of data.

Also, monitoring for this kind of accident is paying a lot more attention to individual customer bills and usage than I necessarily want AT&T monitoring. AT&T has already established that they cooperate extensively with monitoring US communications at NSA request, especially with the notorious "Room 641A". DO we want them collecting and acting on this kind of data?

Comment: Re:Cost of Programmers Cost of Engines (Score 3, Informative) 102

by Antique Geekmeister (#49600491) Attached to: Should Developers Still Pay For Game Engines?

One of my and my group's major sources of income is cleaning up after those "one developer" projects. The "rone developer" often has no idea how, or no willingness, to set up a testing plan before releases, to integrate robust security, to make software high availability, or to scale it behind a certain very modest size.

The result is that the first project or demo works well and is very lean and agile in the performance sense. But as the number of customers grow, or as people find and report bugs, scaling up and keeping it working well is much easier for the larger, more cautious team. Ideally, they code reviewed each other's work and pointed out where a fix here broke a feature elsewhere, or pointed out the edge cases that also need to be handled. As an example, what works on a laptop sitting next to the server running the multi-player game may not work so well behind three firewalls, NAT, and an overburdened local cable network setup. Lone developers often are not expected to spend time on those issues.

Comment: Re:This again? (Score 1) 418

by Bruce Perens (#49598949) Attached to: New Test Supports NASA's Controversial EM Drive

OK, I will try to restate in my baby talk since I don't remember this correctly.

Given that you are accelerating, the appearance to you is that you are doing so linearly, and time dilation is happening to you. It could appear to you that you reach your destination in a very short time, much shorter than light would allow. To the outside observer, however, time passes at a different rate and you never achieve light speed.

Comment: Re: hmm (Score 2) 123

by Solandri (#49598947) Attached to: Judge Tosses United Airlines Lawsuit Over 'Hidden City' Tickets
Yeah, it's nonsensical because they're assuming the higher price to Chicago is correct, and you're doing something "wrong" by paying less. It's actually the higher price to Chicago which is wrong.

The root of the problem lies in lack of competition. Chicago is a United hub. So they control a plurality if not a majority of the flights to and from Chicago. That gives them quasi-monopoly powers when it comes to pricing. They've bought landing/takeoff rights for all those flights and control most of the gates. So even if a competitor underprices United, they can't increase their capacity to handle the extra tickets they'd sell. Their lower price just means they sell out their seats quicker, rather than sell more seats. Faced with selling x tickets for the same price as United, or only a few more than x tickets for a lot cheaper than United, most competitors just match United's pricing.

Consequently the price of flights to/from Chicago are higher than the market would dictate with adequate competition. And you get the perverse situation where a flight form L.A. to Chicago is more expensive than L.A. to N.Y. even though the latter flight stops in Chicago. In other words, you're not saving money by using this trick to fly to Chicago. You're just not paying the extra money United would've made because of their quais-monopoly control of Chicago. (They're still making more money than they should because you're still paying for the Chicago to N.Y. leg.) exploits a leak in the airline's quasi-monopoly control of fares at their hub airports. The airlines can't plug that leak logistically (since their connection flights have to go through their hubs), so they're trying to get the courts to plug it for them.

Comment: don't call these offers. they aren't (Score 3, Insightful) 204

by bzipitidoo (#49598263) Attached to: Want 30 Job Offers a Month? It's Not As Great As You Think

This article is about spam, not real offers. If they were real offers, it would give the lowdown-- location, skills, duties, and pay. It would be an actual employment contract, and all the candidate would have to do is sign up, or not.

So often, these so-called jobs are fake. There isn't a real job, they're just harvesting resumes. Or maybe there is but they've already settled on a candidate, and everyone else has no real chance, the employer is only going through the motions to satisfy EEOC rules.

Comment: Re:'Hidden city' explanation (Score 2) 123

And the lawyers, who billed for the time filing the case. And the clients who, I suspect, worked with the lawyers to find the friendliest venue to file the case ina: a friendly venue can make an enormous difference in court cases. It's called "forum shopping", and it's a critical tactical factor.

Comment: Re:Prior art (Score 1) 59

Unfortunately, their incentives are diametrically opposed to common sense. There is literally no downside for a USPTO examiner to rubber-stamp everything on his or her desk. They get to go home early to beat the traffic, while productive society is left to deal with the legal fallout. The net effect is to devalue legitimate IP while rewarding the trolls.


It's because of this and copyright abuse that I think, sometimes, that we should just chuck it all and rely on trade secrets and a free-for-all on copyright. These jerks are not just poisoning the well, they're throwing dead goats in it.


FORTRAN rots the brain. -- John McQuillin