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Comment Great, exactly what they have been waiting for (Score 1) 369

Finally a weapon they can use on everyone. Normal guns are only for people who could arguably be suspects, and only if they are fleeing or trying to fumble out their papers as instructed. Tasers are at best suitable for men with raised hands. And of course for people in wheelchairs, for pregnant women and for school-aged children, provided these are not following instructions because they couldn't hear them or because they were confusing. That left a dangerous gap in the arsenal: toddlers, pregnant women with raised hands, unconscious diabetics, ... Torturing any of these with a taser generally leads to unfair consequences. (In some cases, officers were even sacked and had to move to a different city to find employment in their chosen vocation.) So there is a serious gap in the arsenal for customer management.

Comment Background (Score 1) 394

Planning for the LiMux project started in 2002 on the initiative of an SPD city councillor. It was about migration from Windows NT to Linux rather than a newer version of Windows. SPD (social democratic party) usually has the majority in the Munich city council, and had it at the time. However, in the 2014 elections SPD has lost 8 seats and CSU (christian social union) has won 3. CSU now has 1 more seat than SPD.

Microsoft obviously never liked LiMux and tried to prevent it by offering very cheap licences. The city decided to carry out the project anyway. After some initial difficulties the project was successful and saved the city a lot of money. While it's hard to assess how much money was saved exactly, this should give an idea: Currently half the computers used by the city administration have a CPU frequency of 500 MHz or below, and most have 256 MB of RAM or less. But today CSU is stronger, and Microsoft has gained additional leverage by moving its German seat to Munich (from nearby Unterschleißheim) - a decision in which the current mayor (SPD) was involved.

Part of the reason CSU gets support from computer users in the city administration is that the users do not have administrator rights on their computers. This is of course by design rather than a defect of Linux. However, it is a defect of Windows that large organisations often have to grant administrator rights to their users because often the simplest things don't work properly on Windows without them, with no reasonable workarounds that don't involve a lot of work by system administrators. So in a sense the users are right to complain about Linux: It prevents them from getting rights they shouldn't have on their work computers in the first place!

Comment Silly season in Germany - some clarifications (Score 1) 280

The occasion for this article was *not* an actual court case. Rather, in the silly season another publication (Finanztest) had re-heated a topic that had been widely discussed before the summer. A pensioner who could not chew had photographed his pureed meals, and someone else had published the photos on a Facebook page whose name translates as "Jürgen takes photos of his meals". Attempts of the nursing home to stifle this obviously backfired. (The pensioner didn't feel treated badly anyway. He just wanted to show other people what it is like when you can only eat pureed food for the rest of your life.)

To make the semblance of a story out of this, Finanztest asked a lawyer whether there is actually any legal hold against people taking photos of the food they are served. And the lawyer said what lawyers everywhere would have said: That yes, theoretically, a very careful composition in a high-class restaurant might be considered a work of art, and thus subject to copyright. However, given that a German court recently decided that a certain porn video did not have copyright protection because someone had merely pointed a camera at a couple having intercourse, with no apparent art, acting or composition involved whatsoever, there seems to be no chance that anyone will ever convince a German judge that some typical fast food is subject to copyright.

As the silly season wasn't quite over yet, Die Welt took up this stupid topic and added another possible reason why taking photos of food might be illegal in some cases. It appears that several years ago(!) an innkeeper in Berlin had posted the following notice (translated from German): "Please do not instagram the food here in this restaurant. (And not this notice, either.)" This was promptly tweeted; possibly as a guerrilla advertising campaign. Such a notice would probably be considered binding by a German court as it does not seem to go beyond reasonable exercise of the innkeeper's property rights. But of course this has never been tested, either, because Germans don't go to court over photos of food in restaurants any more than people elsewhere.

Comment Re:Sweet F A (Score 1) 576

Isn't the reason obvious? The production of snuff films for selling on the Galactinet. They get Helium in return which they need for their children's balloons. They could of course produce Helium themselves, but they need a lot of it and this method of acquiring it is 7 per cent cheaper than any other.

Comment The real problem with Liquid Threads / Flow ... (Score 3, Interesting) 94

... is that it breaks Wikipedia's internal mechanisms by totally and utterly destroying all sense of location in a discussion. In a Wikipedia discussion, each comment has a certain environment that may change, but usually not too drastically. Different discussion pages tend to have different visual flair: Large blocks of texts or lots of short comments, most comments indented on the same level or it keeps changing. 'Hatted' threads and sub-threads (i.e. you have to click to see them). Also, users can freely edit other users' comments.

There are advantages and disadvantages to the traditional wiki discussion style. Advantages include that you can usually see at a glance in which environment a certain comment that put a user into trouble was made, and if you want to be absolutely sure you can go back in the page history. And, very importantly, if you revisit a discussion after months, the visual appearance gives you clues that make it easier to remember what it was about and how it went and maybe even what you were going to say when you got distracted.

The very point of Liquid Threads is to move things around in such a way as to destroy all of that. Places such as Reddit and Stack Exchange have shown that this can work very well. But once you have a big audience and community norms built on a radically different system, I think it's problematic to make that kind of change. When I was still active on Wikipedia, Liquid Threads was already running on some meta-site. I felt that it was absolutely horrible to use because the re-ordering got in the way of exactly the kind of thoughtful discussion which that particular wiki was supposed to be for.

--- In case anyone wonders: After about 26,000 edits, I left Wikipedia in disgust for a year when it became clear that a vast majority of editors supported retaliating against Islamic extremism by angering ordinary, peaceful Muslims on the Muhammad article for no encyclopedic reason. (I would understand one or two Islamic Muhammad depictions to illustrate the fact that they exist - e.g. there is precisely one on the Turkish version of the article -, but half a dozen is way over the top, gives a very misleading - hence 'unencyclopedic' - impression, and seems designed exclusively to alienate Muslim readers and editors. This feeds the inferiority complex that causes some Muslims to become fundamentalists. By the way, I am an atheist and personally consider the Muhammad image ban stupid.)

When I returned I found that for whatever reason my ability to get *anything* done in controversial areas was gone completely. Apparently, using words such as "genital mutilation" in a discussion, applied to a gender for which the media of a large Western nation practising it on a large scale generally doesn't use it, is much worse than actually encouraging it in an article by abusing rules and then simply shutting down all discussion. And so I joined the ranks of ex-editors who complain about abuse by Wikipedia's almost completely uncontrolled admin caste.

Maybe Liquid Threads would even be capable of solving such problems, once it works properly and the community has adapted to it. Its introduction would no doubt cause a severe crisis, which, come to think of it, is probably just what the English Wikipedia needs.

Comment Some speculation (Score 1) 580

I tend not to trust the US government at all, but in this case it seems extremely likely that North Korea is in fact behind this as they say. If that's the case, then we are probably seeing a re-orientation of the US government towards a different enemy. Taking tension out of the relations with Cuba, reassessing the torture stupidity and being more proactive about closing Guantanamo have all been long overdue because all these insanities happen only for reasons of interior policy and hurt the US extremely in terms of international diplomacy.

It would make sense for this event to be connected to the recent confrontation with Russia (who might have provided misleading intelligence to North Korea suggesting the US would not react to such retaliation against Sony for embarrassing North Korea's leader), but in any case the realisation they are en route to two extremely costly wars (with no oil to win) -- both of them close to or in China's sphere of interest -- could have prompted some emergency measures by the US government to try and restore international good will.

If I have analysed the situation correctly, we are just seeing the usual manipulations of international public opinion that are a necessary preparation for war in a (pro-forma or real) democracy. For a war against North Korea, not Russia. To this end, the threat must be exaggerated and connected to an American trauma, rather than treated proportionally.

Comment Reminds me of this TV program: (Score 2) 448

French television made a more thorough experiment that can be watched as a 3-hour documentary on Youtube. They used all the tricks available to film to turn a black family living in Paris into a convincing white one and vice versa. This is worth watching even if you don't understand French: https://www.youtube.com/watch?... ("Dans la peau d'un noir").

Comment Re:THEN... (Score 1) 120

Excellent point. It seems unlikely to me that this decision survives the next round, since that would probably imply a reversal on the current jurisdiction around second-level domain names.

Maybe the decision was *designed* to be reverted by a higher court. At least in Germany, it is an open secret that courts sometimes write their decisions intentionally so that they will be overturned - either because they don't want to take responsibility for the correct decision or because the professional judge must write the rationale for a decision in which he was overruled by lay judges. In the present situation, maybe it's a trick for making sure certain arguments cannot be heard in the higher instance?

Comment Re:Systemd (Score 1) 993

The parts of the internet where I spend most of my online time aren't half as bad as what you describe. But those bad parts definitely exist, and when we are talking real-life consequences such as hiring hitmen this is the only thing that matters. I am not at all surprised by what Poettering is complaining about. It's just the logical next step after doxing, calling employers and swatting.

How far someone will go is determined to a large extent by the attitudes of their peers. Many will always go with the average opinion, some will always be a little more moderate, and some will always make sure to be the most extreme person in the room. Once several people of the latter type meet online, it gets dangerous because this results in a one-upmanship competition not unlike that 'game' where two stolen cars race towards a frontal crash and the first driver to brake or turn aside 'loses'. Come to think of it, the idiots playing this 'game' are also on the internet, which should explain a lot.

Comment Re:Systemd AND PULSE AUDIO (Score 1) 993

So you are now admitting that what you claimed is wrong. *Of course* you can get a ticket for driving in the left lane for no reason at all. It's the same everywhere here in Europe, but people here actually stick to this rule, most of the time. As my ex-wife told me after half a year in Oregon, this is not at all the case there. I guess this is somehow related to everyone with a pulse being able to get a driver's licence. In Germany, like in most European countries, there is always a very real chance of not passing. At the time when most of my classmates turned 18 and took driving lessons, several of them failed on their first attempt. Typical problems were failing the theory exam, not properly starting the car on a rising slope, taking "turn right at the next chance" more seriously than a one-way sign, and following a lorry at a traffic light that turned red - or might have done so - while obscured by the lorry.

In other news: Believe it or not, you can get a life sentence for walking on the side-walk. (If you shoot someone dead while doing so.)

Comment Re:Change management fail (Score 1) 162

The problem is that that's often not how they think. In some cultures you only ask a yes or no question in order to hear a yes answer, no matter what. You think you are enquiring for information. The poor Elbonian you are talking to may be totally stressed out because he thinks you are telling them that you are very angry about him because you lost face before your superior due to his poor performance. And that, even though nobody knows or can know how to do things better, you now have to report back to that superior, untruthfully (as everybody including the superior knows), that the Elbonian will solve the problem. You just need a yes from the Elbonian, so it can travel up the chain of command. The Elbonian just needs to confirm that he is doing that impossible thing that nobody has ever heard of, and everything will be fine for a while.

If, instead, you wanted him to try to actually do this, then you would - in the mind of the Elbonian - ask very differently.

Now of course you can try to find Elbonians who know how to communicate with Americans. Just don't be surprised if it's hard, and maybe impossible at the price you are willing to pay.

Comment Re:Change management fail (Score 1) 162

I don't think it's so hard. Extreme example:

"Some of our computers are more important for our business than the others. For example, every hour that kremvax is not running costs us roughly half a million dollars because people worldwide then buy somewhere else.

It often happens that new firmware from the vendor does not work properly. So suppose you make a firmware update on kremvax, reboot it, and it does not start. What will you do in that case?" ...

"That's probably the best thing you can do in this situation, though I would ask you to also ... so that ... . Unfortunately, if this happens, it can take days to resolve the situation. Two days at half a million dollars each, that would make, um, ... How much is that, help me out please..." ...

"Yes, exactly, 24 million. That's why our last system administrator was always very scared. He wouldn't have lost his job if this happened once, but some people would have been very angry. So he was always reading those books about anticipatory system administration [I just made this term up; use a proper, searchable technical term if there is one] to minimize the danger. He always came up with new tricks. For example, there is this server called deepthought that is not doing anything really important most of the time. We call this a development server. Now when he wanted to do a firmwareupdate, what do you think: which of the servers did he do first, kremvax or deepthought?"

Comment Re:Its Fine. - not (Score 1) 348

Sorry if this is a stupid question - I may just be out of touch with what firewalls can do nowadays. How would the firewall know whether it is dealing with sqlserver.exe on port 40264 or some other program? If it's not running on the same computer? I can imagine that some expensive solutions can do this, but I would be surprised to learn that a stock OpenBSD, say, can do it.

You know you've landed gear-up when it takes full power to taxi.