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Comment: An odd, antiquated approach (Score 1) 257

by Marginal Coward (#49349833) Attached to: Generate Memorizable Passphrases That Even the NSA Can't Guess

As someone who dabbles in genealogy, one approach I've used for creating hard-to-crack yet easy-to-remember passphrases is to base them on one or more of my ancestors who have unusual, antiquated names. (Any genealogist will memorize those without even trying.) Of course, to make these passphrases harder to crack, you can throw in numbers such as their birth year, capitalize certain letters from a small memorized list, add your favorite symbol, etc.

I don't have any way to prove that this really works, but those odd old names seem unlikely to appear in any corpus of common passwords.

Comment: Re:Trade secret? (Score 0) 74

by Marginal Coward (#49346187) Attached to: Facebook Sued For Alleged Theft of Data Center Design

[head slap!] Now, it's beginning to all make sense...

When I visited The World of Coke a couple of years ago, they would show me the vault that contains the Secret Formuler but not the Secret Formuler itself. Seems like a simple idear: I think these BRG jokers could learn a thing or two from the Coke folks...

Comment: Re:Whatever ... (Score 2) 141

by Marginal Coward (#49321947) Attached to: "Google Glass Isn't Dead!" Says Google's CEO Eric Schmidt

The Apple Newton failed too, from its experience and lessons learned it became the iPhone, and iPad.

I think the primary lesson learned from the Apple Newton was that Steve Jobs should replace John Sculley. If so, I guess your assessment of its relation to the iPhone and iPad is correct.

Comment: Re:So lemme get this right: (Score 3, Interesting) 45

My phone system at home is provided by my cable company, which uses VoIP (I assume) to provide phone service over the same cable that my Internet traffic flows through. In this common scenario, are the network and phone somehow logically isolated from each other even though they use the same physical medium?

Comment: Re:Actual sums received by members of the suit (Score 2) 54

Well, it's because the purpose of the courts is to try to make yourself whole. Except in the case of a class action, where it's practically impossible.

FWIW, ever since I received that airline coupon, I have thought it would be nice if there was a law that stated that the lawyers and plaintiffs must receive compensation in the same form: if the lawyers get cash, the plaintiffs should get cash, and if the plaintiffs get coupons, the lawyers should get coupons.

If I had received just one dollar and the lawyers had received thousands of dollars, or, if I had received one coupon and the lawyers had received thousands of coupons, I wouldn't have felt cheated.

Comment: Re:Actual sums received by members of the suit (Score 1) 54

In my story above, the fact that I received a worthless coupon as "compensation" seemed to indicate that I was never actually part of the equation. The legal notice I received indicated that I could file my own claim (which I knew anyway), but as you suggest, it wasn't economical to do so. Nor did I feel at all damaged when I originally bought the airline ticket - until I received the worthless coupon and found out that the lawyers were getting all the money.

In cases like this, I would much prefer that all the worthless "compensation" be pooled together and given to charity or whatever - which would actually do somebody some good - rather than the current sham system that continues to operate for the benefit of everyone except the plaintiffs.

I've always regarded these class action lawsuits as a bit like gold prospecting: whichever lawyer first discovers the hidden nugget of some damages ostensibly due to class of people gets to dig the nugget out of the legal landscape and run off with it. I guess the legal theory would be that the lawyers deserve the golden nugget in return for for all the good they're doing society with these lawsuits. Likewise, plaintiffs are no more important than any other tailings in a gold mine.

Comment: Re: Impossible Fair Trial (Score 1) 337

by Marginal Coward (#49302425) Attached to: German Vice Chancellor: the US Threatened Us Over Snowden

Interesting points. I hadn't thought about possible whistleblower protection and/or its inapplicability to Snowden's case.

Another escape valve the system offers for "faireness" in such cases is a Presidential pardon, but that seems very unlikely. The US government as a whole sees Snowden's acts as quite damaging to national security, even if others see them as beneficial overall.

Comment: Re:Actual sums received by members of the suit (Score 2) 54

Class action suits are not designed to provide compensation to the current class.

OK, IANAL, so help me out here. If that's the case, why do plaintiffs get anything at all? Why not just give all the compensation to the lawyers and let those naive plaintiffs go make themselves whole? Why in the heck should the legal system care about people who were damaged in the first place?

Actually, to me, it looks much more like a situation of the foxes being in charge of the hen house. That would neatly explain why the hens never always receive chicken feed as compensation. (My apologies if you happen to be a fox by trade.)

Comment: Re:So be it (Score 1) 337

by Marginal Coward (#49301535) Attached to: German Vice Chancellor: the US Threatened Us Over Snowden

Why can't germany do its own intelligence? Why outsource intelligence to america?

I guess they're not that smart. (Sorry, couldn't resist.)

Actually, it's common for allies to share intelligence, which works to everyone's benefit. They probably all do it selectively: nobody shares everything they've got. See the Pollard case for an example.

Comment: Re: Impossible Fair Trial (Score 4, Insightful) 337

by Marginal Coward (#49301481) Attached to: German Vice Chancellor: the US Threatened Us Over Snowden

By "fair trial" do you mean to be tried in accordance with the law? Don't put me on the jury, because it seems clear to me that he did break the law by divulging classified information - and lots of it. In fact, he wouldn't be the popular hero he is if he hadn't broken the law. (Nobody becomes a popular hero by working secretly behind the scenes at NSA to reform the system from within.) So, I think even a fair trial would convict him. (Then again, that's why you shouldn't put me on the jury.) We could then expect his supporters to claim that the trial was unfair.

However, note that I'm referring only to the legal issue here. Whether or not what Snowden did was "right", "good", "moral", etc. is a different question that I know that many people here feel strongly about. But that's a separate issue.

Regardless, you can't simultaneously lionize him for having the guts to break the law in order to do what he and others see as the right thing, then expect him not to be convicted for breaking the law because "the full power of the US government would make any fair trial impossible."

Comment: Re:Actual sums received by members of the suit (Score 3, Insightful) 54

I think the lawyers are always the winners in these class action lawsuits. Years ago, I received a notice that I was the beneficiary of a class action lawsuit revolving around an airline ticket I had once purchased. It seemed like a gift to me because I didn't even know that I had been "damaged." So, the lawyers who brought the suit seemed to be doing me a favor.

As part of the settlement, I was to receive a coupon for a discount on a future ticket from the same airline. The coupon didn't have much face value, maybe $20. Even worse, there were a lot of restrictions on it. So, it was basically worthless.

The lawyers got paid in cash. I assume the lawyers and the defendant always structure these things to minimize the real cost to the defendant in return for maximizing the payout to the lawyers. And of course, compensating the "damaged" plaintiff doesn't really enter into it.

Comment: Re:Convenience (Score 1) 214

by Marginal Coward (#49293255) Attached to: The GNU Manifesto Turns Thirty

You say you couldn't use the software, which is not completely true.

Sorry that I didn't spell out that I meant that I couldn't use it from a business point of view. I assumed that readers would be able to figure that out without me having to explain every detail.

Although many people make money selling GPL'ed software, it just doesn't make sense for many business scenarios, in which case the business "can't use the software" (again, in a practical business sense.)

In my case, the business is a small one that I operate out of my home as a sideline. It sells something extremely specialized in very low volume. It's not lucrative, but it has made enough money over the years to be worth my time.

If I were to incorporate any GPL'ed software into it, I would then need to GPL the whole thing (isn't that the whole idea of the GPL?), and the few sales I have would dry up completely. Since it has such a small user base, I would be unlikely to make any money in any of the common open source revenue models, such as selling media or service.

So let's think about this realistically from a business point of view only, not trying to make the world a better place, like your beloved RMS. (Some of us want to be able to afford to shave, take a bath, and subsist on something tastier than toe jam.) I could incorporate a single function that had been translated from unlicensed Fortran to C and GPL'ed, and then lose my entire small business. Or, I could translate the function from Fortran to C myself, where the unspecified license of the original Fortran would remain unspecified in the new version.

So, which would you do?

Remember, you're not allowed to make the world a better place in this scenario, except by providing proprietary, closed-source software to end users that does a useful, highly specialized function, at a price that many are happy to pay.

BTW, my version of freedom is superior to RMS's because it's freer. Isn't that axiomatic? If freedom with a few restrictions is good, freedom without the restrictions must be better. I've always thought it was a great fraud to describe restrictions as "freedom".

Comment: Re:Your complaint is hypocrisy (Score 1) 214

by Marginal Coward (#49288905) Attached to: The GNU Manifesto Turns Thirty

You wanted freedom to use someone else's software as you see fit, but you don't want someone else to use your software as they see fit.

That's a textbook case of hypocrisy.

If it makes you feel any better, I have released a small amount of useful software under an MIT-style license for all to use any way they like with full, true freedom. So I'm not all bad.

Anyway, I follow your point. But without the financial incentive that I have in selling my proprietary software, it wouldn't exist in any form. Both my software's users and myself would then be poorer for that. (I've learned that few people will pay for software unless you make them.) And I've received many nice thank-you's from people who paid good money for my hypocrisy - and were happy to do so.

Obviously, software can be licensed different ways, and the choice of license is both a matter of personal preference and pragmatism for various situations. So, use GPL if you like - I'm all in favor of it. It's just not for me.

And if you license your software child via the GPL, don't expect me to adopt your child. It probably deserves a better home than I can provide anyway.

Comment: Re:Imagining a world without RMS (Score 1) 214

by Marginal Coward (#49285139) Attached to: The GNU Manifesto Turns Thirty

But would there have been a GPL without Stallman? I doubt it. The BSD-type licenses are very different because they don't require copyleft, which is the whole point of the GPL. It's copyleft that keeps the knowledge embodied in code free for others to use.

As I had suggested, the idea of Copyleft is clever, and perhaps even original. But if "necessity is the mother of invention" and RMS hadn't provided the GPL and Copyleft to us, they must either be unnecessary or would have been invented by someone else.

Yes, we will be going to OSI, Mars, and Pluto, but not necessarily in that order. -- Jeffrey Honig