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Comment: Please explain your terms (Score 1) 172

by jbn-o (#47571131) Attached to: An Accidental Wikipedia Hoax

I'm not convinced Wikipedia is somehow profoundly not an encylopedia. Part of the reason your post doesn't convince me is because you criticize Wikipedia for not being "on par with the Brittanica" without specifying what you think exactly that par is, or what exactly you think "the concept of an encyclopedia is". It's difficult to have a conversation about these things without understanding what you view those things to be.

I know that I don't get the same freedoms with Brittanica I get with Wikipedia: I'm not allowed to distribute verbatim or edited copies of Brittanica entries. These freedoms translate into practical outcomes for most people, most notably the main means of keeping Wikipedia viable and an (apparently) mainstream source of information. By contrast, if someone wants to build on what they view as Brittanica's articles they have to negotiate with Brittanica to do that (and I've never seen anyone do this) but I know of projects that build on Wikipedia. Many articles I find interesting and worth listing in an encyclopedia are simply missing from Brittanica but are present in Wikipedia, such as why Brittanica thinks "GNU/Linux" and "Linux" are the same (which is both inaccurate and unfair) while maintaining that the former is an operating system and the latter a kernel (which is accurate and fair).

I have no changelog for Brittanica, so I have nothing to point to there that compares with what I can get in Wikipedia's changelog. TFA implicitly shows the value of changelogs for identifying how long edits have remained and who edited what when.

As for editing by non-experts: I don't know who edits Brittanica's many editions (including the paper editions) nor do I know what their qualifications are. I find this to be roughly equivalent to Wikipedia because I don't know who edits Wikipedia either, nor do I know their qualifications.

I remember some years ago reading an article by a Brittanica affiliate who essentially proposed to weigh Brittanica and Wikipedia on an evaluation of one obscure point he knew something about. Not only is that bad surveying, but it invites critique that can be used against Brittanica just as easily. I recall being struck by how behind the times Brittanica was the last time I saw it, particularly on the free software movement, a topic I know something about. I found the lack of coverage in Brittanica telling. Where Brittanica had something to say on the matter, I found Brittanica made the usual errors and confusions people make when they've only been exposed to "open source" (such as attributing what Richard Stallman's actions with "open source" despite historical contradiction and Stallman's own words and deeds); open source movement's philosophy, practical outcomes, or history isn't the same as free software and it's a shame history and contemporary evidence weighs so lightly for Brittanica.

Comment: Reject all proprietary software and "choice" too (Score 1, Insightful) 362

by jbn-o (#47561643) Attached to: Which Is Better, Adblock Or Adblock Plus?
You'd not only rightly reject Google Chrome you'd also reject choice as a reason to favor nonfree software. Chrome is a nonfree browser so that is right out. A choice of nonfree programs doesn't satisfy what computer users need—software freedom. Choice is easily satisfied in that there's more than one alternative but choice of software says nothing about how well the alternatives address important needs to control one's computer (rather than letting the software control the users). So choice of software is a weak substitute for the freedoms to run, inspect, share, and modify software.

Comment: Software freedom is worth caring about (Score 2) 230

by jbn-o (#47558991) Attached to: Free Copy of the Sims 2 Contains SecuROM

People who care about controlling their computers care, as should all computer users care. This is another instance in a long line of great learning opportunities to distinguish between 'free as in price' and 'free as in freedom'—software proprietors get away with malware because how the software works is kept secret from its users. TFA tells us that Electronic Arts didn't tell prospective users SecuROM was a part of the gratis Sims 2 install, probably because EA knew users wouldn't install Sims 2 if they knew it came with SecuROM. Proprietors abuse the trust users have placed in them and it's time to teach users how things actually work, not encourage dismissal that hands users over to the abusers ("who cares").

Comment: Can it be updated and run Free Software? (Score 1) 91

by jbn-o (#47520383) Attached to: Intel Launches Self-Encrypting SSD
If the drive's software were flashable (the device could be updated with different software) and the software were Free Software, there would be no reason to fear Intel's connection to the NSA. Users would have the freedoms they need to make sure the software does what they want it to do. Proprietary encryption, no matter who writes it or distributes it, is always untrustworthy for the same reason proprietary software is untrustworthy—you don't really know what it's doing and neither does anyone you can trust to help you understand what it's doing. Furthermore you can't make it do what you want and you can't help others by distributing improved versions that respect other user's freedoms.

Comment: 2014 is the Year of the BSD Desktop! (Score 1) 77

by wiredog (#47473459) Attached to: FreeBSD 9.3 Released

Please try to keep posts on topic.
Try to reply to other people's comments instead of starting new threads.
Read other people's messages before posting your own to avoid simply duplicating what has already been said.
Use a clear subject that describes what your message is about.
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If you are having a problem with accounts or comment posting, please yell for help.

Comment: Yet another reason to insist on software freedom (Score 2) 277

by jbn-o (#47472047) Attached to: Sony Forgets To Pay For Domain, Hilarity Ensues

Early Tuesday, gamers woke up to find out that they couldn't log in to any Sony Online Entertainment games--no Everquest, no Planetside 2, none of them.

Could the users have used another server to connect with each other? Or is this a case of DRM ("Digital Restrictions Management", when properly viewed from the perspective of its effect on the users) and, more generally, nonfree software restricting users from running the games with other people?

Comment: Stallman's "blessings" are for software freedom (Score 1) 101

by jbn-o (#47436411) Attached to: First Release of LibreSSL Portable Is Available

[...] not everything has to be blessed by Stallmann to be acceptable

Regarding this point, Stallman certainly does endorse Free Software. And so much of what is in OpenBSD is Free Software—software that respects a user's software freedom—and the same goes for OpenSSL. Stallman (and his organization, the Free Software Foundation(FSF)) are known for standing up for a user's software freedom. Non-copylefted Free Software is Free Software. Furthermore, in 2004 the FSF gave Theo de Raadt an award for the Advancement of Free Software, "[f]or recognition as founder and project leader of the OpenBSD and OpenSSH projects, Theo de Raadt's work has also led to significant contributions to other BSD distributions and GNU/Linux. Of particular note is Theo's work on OpenSSH". A free system need not include GNU software or be licensed under a GNU license (such as the GPL) to respect a user's software freedom.

The FSF is quite clear why it doesn't list OpenBSD (or the other BSD distributions) in their list of Free system distributions:

FreeBSD, NetBSD, and OpenBSD all include instructions for obtaining nonfree programs in their ports system. In addition, their kernels include nonfree firmware blobs.

Nonfree firmware programs used with Linux, the kernel, are called "blobs", and that's how we use the term. In BSD parlance, the term "blob" means something else: a nonfree driver. OpenBSD and perhaps other BSD distributions (called "projects" by BSD developers) have the policy of not including those. That is the right policy, as regards drivers; but when the developers say these distributions âoecontain no blobsâ, it causes a misunderstanding. They are not talking about firmware blobs.

No BSD distribution has policies against proprietary binary-only firmware that might be loaded even by free drivers.

Including nonfree software and pointing users to nonfree software is quite common among those who endorse the open source philosophy, as the FSF has long pointed out (older essay, newer essay). The open source movement's philosophy is a development methodology built to toss aside software freedom for practical convenience in an attempt to be "more acceptable to business". So this philosophical difference sets up a radically different reaction in the face of reliable, powerful proprietary software. Quoting the newer essay:

A pure open source enthusiast, one that is not at all influenced by the ideals of free software, will say, "I am surprised you were able to make the program work so well without using our development model, but you did. How can I get a copy?" This attitude will reward schemes that take away our freedom, leading to its loss.

The free software activist will say, "Your program is very attractive, but I value my freedom more. So I reject your program. Instead I will support a project to develop a free replacement." If we value our freedom, we can act to maintain and defend it.

Nobody's gonna believe that computers are intelligent until they start coming in late and lying about it.

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