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Comment: Re:Open source still requires license fees (Score 1) 95

by Florian Weimer (#45282653) Attached to: Cisco Releases Open Source "Binary Module" For H.264 In WebRTC

That's actually missing a key piece of information. Patent licenses can be very narrow in scope, which allows an owner to charge different parties for different aspects how a device uses a patented technology.

Does anybody know why I wouldn't need a separate licensing deal with MPEG LA if I built a web application using WebRTC? Their typical licensing agreement (as used in Windows and Flash, for instance) does not extend to third-party applications that use the codecs through APIs.

Comment: What's wrong with Lua? (Score 1) 254

by Florian Weimer (#44952947) Attached to: The Most WTF-y Programming Languages

Is there any indication why Lua scores so highly here? It seems a rather benign little language to me. Certainly, nil-terminated arrays are can be tricky, and a missing local keyword can ruin your day, but that seem minor annoyances. And for the local-vs-global issue, there are now editors with semantics highlighting that clearly disambiguate the two cases.

Comment: Re:Enterprise? (Score 5, Informative) 245

by Florian Weimer (#44919913) Attached to: Will Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn Stay With MySQL?

And the article confirms the large-scaler users aren't part of that elusive group, either:

Many of the largest MySQL users — Twitter included — do not currently pay Oracle for an enterprise licence. Twitter, like Facebook, prefers to build their own extensions and customisations off the community version.

Comment: Re: so-called summary (Score 1) 34

by Florian Weimer (#44722917) Attached to: Quantum Cryptography Is Safe Again

The relays in that networking protocol are decrypt-and-encrypt, so it enables even more (undetectable) eavesdropping.

Quantum key distribution has a strange security model where it is assumed that someone inside the network cannot run two instances of the protocol and give the two parties in a communication the illusion of talking directly to each other, when they in fact talk each to the attacker. In other words, it is assumed that there is confidentiality without authentication. All kinds of strange things follow if you make that kind of a mistake.

Comment: Re:Mathematician? (Score 1) 203

by Florian Weimer (#42156531) Attached to: One Cool Day Job: Building Algorithms For Elevators

Isn't making the elevator go faster a job for an engineer? Does one really need to be a mathematician to know that a faster elevator moves people faster?

If the elevator can make stops along the way, it probably refers to mean travel time, and it's an entirely different problem.

That being said, the "surfboard feature" is really, really, old. A lot of elevators have on-demand overrides which prevent intermediate stops. So the article might just be an infomercial for the elevator company after all.

Comment: Re:Title gets it wrong (Score 1) 397

by Florian Weimer (#40879465) Attached to: Mathematician Predicts Wave of Violence In 2020

Sure, you have to ignore the decline in violence (simply looking at absolute numbers would help in a few cases). But there could still be periodic patterns against the general backdrop of decline. However, there is little evidence for that.

Now all kinds of things could go wrong and lead to rising violence levels in the next years (global financial meltdown followed by a drop in international trade, countries trying to collect on their debts by military force etc., which would eventually have an effect on personal violence as well), but if these things happen exactly in 2020 (and not earlier or later, or not at all), it will be coincidence, and not related to some recurring societal patterns. Our world is already very, very different from the 1970, and no matter what happens, there are so many things which are quite irreversible, at least in the course of a decade or two (the global rise in English literacy, for instance).

Comment: Title gets it wrong (Score 5, Informative) 397

by Florian Weimer (#40878649) Attached to: Mathematician Predicts Wave of Violence In 2020

The guy isn't a mathematician, he's an ecologist. And I find it hard to believe that by 2020, social acceptance of domestic violence (say) rises again to mid-20th century levels. The reporter's suggestion that the precise moment in time of the Egyptian revolution was predictable is likely based on a misunderstanding of Turchin's work.

By the way, the field isn't as new as the article suggests. Steven Pinker's recent book, The Better Angels of Our Nature, collects quite a bit of quantitative research in this area, most of which does not support the existence of stable cycles.

When speculation has done its worst, two plus two still equals four. -- S. Johnson