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Submission + - Meltdown at Wikipedia (

Andreas Kolbe writes: As Wikipedia is about to turn 15 years old, relations between the volunteer community and the Wikimedia Foundation board have reached a new nadir. First, Dr James Heilman, an immensely popular volunteer noted for his energetic efforts to make Wikipedia's medical articles more trustworthy, was expelled from the board, causing wide-spread protests. Then it transpired that Wikimedia is working on a secretive "Knowledge Engine" project funded by a restricted grant from the Knight Foundation, leading to calls for more transparency about the project. Lastly, a few days ago the board announced the appointment of Arnnon Geshuri, former Senior Director of HR and Staffing at Google, to the Wikimedia board, provoking a further loss of confidence. The volunteers are pointing to Geshuri's past involvement in anticompetitive hiring agreements at Google, which led to a class-action lawsuit resulting in a $415 million settlement. They want Geshuri gone.

Submission + - China passes law requiring tech firms to hand over encryption keys (

Mark Wilson writes: Apple may have said that it opposes the idea of weakening encryption and providing governments with backdoors into products, but things are rather different in China. The Chinese parliament has just passed a law that requires technology companies to comply with government requests for information, including handing over encryption keys.

Under the guise of counter-terrorism, the controversial law is the Chinese government's attempt to curtail the activities of militants and political activists. China already faces criticism from around the world not only for the infamous Great Firewall of China, but also the blatant online surveillance and censorship that takes place. This latest move is one that will be view very suspiciously by foreign companies operating within China, or looking to do so.

Comment Re:Only morons use emoji (Score 1) 93

"Finland and Japan are pretty much homogeneous."

Attempting to describe any country as homogenous is not a very good idea. I (possibly) understand where you are coming from but even within notional national boundaries there are other identities. For example (somewhere I do know about) within the UKoGB&NI, there are at least four national identities (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales) then there are the other - relatively - nationalistic movements such as Cornwall (Kernow) and others that arise from time to time. You may or may not know or at least be dimly aware of Eire - the Republic of Ireland - which was once part of GB and gaining independence in the last century. Then as we slide back through time it gets increasingly complicated and involves bits of what we now know as France and Denmark with a light dusting of Sweden and a host of supporting characters. That's just the collection of islands to the right of mainland Europe. The history of the rest is a massively complicated web that has to be studied to be believed.

Notions of nationhood and ideas of some form of homogeneity just don't work. Apart from anything else, try and define what a nation really is. For example is Wales really a nation? Yes!! From one perspective it is part of England (I'm English). It is referred to as a "principality" and has a Prince of Wales (currently Prince Charles.) The Queen (Elizabeth), who is actually many queens eg Queen of Australia and and many other countries and in this case of Great Britain which includes Wales as part of England and Scotland. When we add in Northern Ireland we get the United Kingdom of GB and NI. Despite all that, Wales has a National Assembly ie local government and there is a national language which is fairly pretty widely spoken alongside English.

Japan and Finland both have a history that is rich and deep and bloody complicated. I know this purely because I know how the history of Europe works in some detail and I am gradually working my way out.

Parochialism is an easy trap to fall into. Please read and travel more: the world is an amazingly diverse place. You think the US is a bit mixed up? You have no idea mate. I'll give you three books to read for starters: "Germania" by Simon Winder, "1000 Years of Annoying the French" by Stephen Clarke and "Stalingrad" by Antony Beevor. All three are admittedly by British authors.

Anyway - there is no such thing as a homogenous country.

Comment Re:Russian Lebensraum (Score 1) 93

I think you'll find that others eg inhabitants of the Sudetenland from the time will tell you their WW2 started in 1938. Being a Brit, I was brought up on the '39-'45 timescale but that obviously neglects the before and after that sears the national consciousness of many other countries.

"I know some people on slashdot think that WWII started Dec 7, 1941"

I've been to the war museum in NOLA (it bills itself as the National Museum I recall) and it doesn't represent WW2 in quite the same way as war museums I have visited in UK, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, France. However the museum in New Orleans does star Tom Hanks - the other places I've visited can't compete with that.

My birthday is Dec 7 (and I am aware it is the day that Pearl Harbour was attacked.)

Comment Re:install gentoo (Score 1) 103

"The point of Gentoo, after all, is extreme configurability. It's not so much a question of tweaking for speed (a common misconception about Gentoo--and a common accusation about the motivations of its users); the big thing is that it lets you add or exclude features according to your own needs and desires. In Gentoo, you have to know what you are doing."

"A complaint we hear about Arch is that its developers drive many of the choices, choices that Gentoo leaves open to the user."

They are both fabulous distros as are all the rest. They have different focuses. I think the Gentoo ricer thing was laid to rest years ago - it was pretty old when I started with it in 2002. With Arch, you do tend to get what you are given and that is an awful lot, but you still have lots of choice - far more in general than other binary distros. Even then you still get far more choice than say with Windows or iWotsit. Moving back to Arch, you always have the AUR for your guilty fixes and Ubuntu has PPAs and frankly you can always get at the source and compile your own.

FFS - we have so much choice now it is an embarrassment of riches. Revel in it and enjoy a golden age. Did I mention *BSD? Sorry: more freely available choice - fantastic.


Comment Re:rm -rf trolls? (Score 2) 103

"Ugh, installing Arch in itself, is an ingenious way to demonstrate"

So you don't like to know how your OS works or care about having the choice about what is on your PC/laptop. Perhaps you should not hang around a site with the strap line "News for nerds".

Me, I like choice: I like being able to decide for myself whether I want MS, Apple or Linux or BSD or whatever. As it turns out, I like the Linux way of doing things. I also like to mess around and tinker. So I choose Arch and Gentoo for my own stuff and Ubuntu, Centos and SLES in general for work. I also make quite a lot of use of FreeBSD via pfSense and am tempted to get in deeper.

I love having choice. Would you rather a monoculture?

BTW: My wife's laptop runs Arch - she doesn't know and she doesn't care. It just works and magically updates every now and then - again she doesn't know this, it just works. OK I'm a consultant but I have the tools given to me by the best and I no longer have to explain why that bloody yellow shield keeps on pestering her nor what the hell is Windows 10 and why it wants to install all the time and then suck her eyes out.

Comment "Don't be evil" - "Do the right thing" (Score 1) 247

The beauty of "do the right thing" is that you no longer have to be seen to be claiming the moral high ground. I wonder who they will be doing the right thing to or for. On the bright side, Goog's mission statement of doing the right thing will now be more accurate - literally and figuratively: if you are a shareholder.

Comment Re:it's not the retailers, it's the cards (Score 1) 317

Err actually it might be the retailers.

I am an EU (UK) citizen and we have had Chip and Pin for years. To the point that we generally don't even bother signing the back of our cards (no need)

I have bought quite a few things (non trivial amounts in some cases) in the US and signed for them on those digitiser things. Not once have I been challenged, despite not having a sig on my card and my bank could not possibly somehow verify my sig - they don't have it in digital form.

Perhaps I simply have an honest face: who wouldn't trust that?

Comment Re:Why does anyone care? (Score 1) 323

"keep in mind, their cars are 100% legal in the much stricter European market"

Will do. However you might like to know that our (UK) Road Fund (annual tax for owning a car) is based on emissions.

I haven't looked too deeply into this and CO2 is not the same as NOx but I suspect there is a vague correlation. Anyway, 1.2M cars are earmarked for recall in the UK alone.

Comment Re:Loophole (Score 2) 323

So no criminal liability in that particular Act. However, never underestimate the ability of an awful lot of Americans behind a class action suit to make a company wish it had never been incorporated. Well, at least for a few months until the coffers are replenished.

I also suspect that in the absence of reprisal under the specific legislation, that other less specific legislation may apply. I doubt that "conspiracy to poison US citizens" will get very far but there is lots of case law to dig through. M'learned friends will have a field day as always.

Then there is the situation in Europe. I heard on the news today that 1.2M cars are affected in the UK alone. The population of the EU as a whole is rather more than twice that of the US and given that VW is a German firm and likely to have more customers here then they are royally screwed.

Now, who else makes diesel cars: I doubt that VW is the only firm to do this ...

Comment Re:Telegrams (Score 1) 73

"An anecdote: when the Egyptian kings were entombed, they were buried with a lot of mummified cats. In the late 19th century when the British colonialists were excavating the tombs, the remains of the cats were sold as fertilizer."

They would be "colonials" if they were taking over the place. I think the word you want is "archaeologist".

A mummified cat is a tiny thing and I doubt it would fertilize anything effectively after several 1000 years, what with being somewhat desiccated. I don't think it would really be worth grinding up a mummified cat when you could simply gather up horse, donkey or mule shit instead. All of those churn out fertilizer at a prodigious rate.

I really hope your anecdote was not imparted to you via your formal education. If it was, I'd ask for your money back. If you are from the UK: I'll ask for *my* money back.

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