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Comment: Re:The bashing is sometimes justified... (Score 1) 77

by Anonymous Brave Guy (#47575705) Attached to: Countries Don't Own Their Internet Domains, ICANN Says

Many countries have concepts in law such as convictions becoming spent after a period of time, usually a few years depending on the seriousness of the offence. The conviction is still a matter of public record, but you no longer have to actively disclose it in some situations where initially you would, and in particular, it may be removed from various routine criminal records checks that are relevant to things like applying for jobs.

It is well documented that such measures promote rehabilitation and reduce reoffending rates, and that denying a former criminal who has paid their dues a fresh start will inevitably lead to further and often worse criminal activity.

As a society we choose to "turn a blind eye" or "grant forgiveness" in these circumstances, partly as a matter of humanity but also partly out of self-interest. You are arguing for an Internet that never forgets the slightest transgression and holds it against someone forever. To me, that can only ever work in a world where we have evolved beyond paranoia and everyone acknowledges openly that everyone else makes mistakes, which sadly I doubt we're going to see in our lifetimes. In the meantime, this seems like a textbook case of "just because we can do something that doesn't mean we should", and the law seems to be siding with "no, we shouldn't".

Comment: Lots of people criticize this for its obviousness (Score 2) 96

... but I don't see anybody else saying that *they* actually thought of it before this guy did as a means of solving the problem of China's air pollution.

A lot of ideas are obvious once somebody announces what the idea actually is. Honestly, I think that people who would criticize the inventor simply because of the idea's apparent simplicity or obviousness are being rather snobbish, if you ask me.

But hey.... some might find it comforting to think that such values, which might otherwise seem outdated in today's word, are still alive and thriving in our society.

Comment: I'm confused (Score 1) 117

by mark-t (#47574939) Attached to: Unesco Probing Star Wars Filming In Ireland

If there was really such a major conservationalist issue with them filming there at this time, how did they get the permits to film there in the first place?

If it was just as a result of miscommunication, then it would seem that the permits should probably be revoked (and fees for them refunded, obviously), unless those making the movie can show that film crew's activities will not introduce things to the environment there which may damage the ecosystem.

I'm as big a Star Wars fan as anybody else that I know, but it's still just a movie, for chissakes. It's not worth harming wildlife over, even if it's only accidentally.

Comment: The bashing is sometimes justified... (Score 3, Interesting) 77

by Anonymous Brave Guy (#47574841) Attached to: Countries Don't Own Their Internet Domains, ICANN Says

I will attempt to address your points objectively, for whatever it is worth.

Firstly, bashing the EU for restricting free communication on the Internet is considering only selective evidence. The most common limitation on free speed today is intellectual property, and by far the biggest champion of restricting the free distribution of IP is the United States, including using all kinds of diplomatic and political tools to push the US agenda extra-jurisdictionally. The US also imposes other restrictions and censorship on-line that are not universal elsewhere in the world, for example in relation to gambling, and again has a track record of pushing its agenda extra-territorially through sometimes dubious mechanisms. I think right now a few people in the US are just feeling aggrieved because inevitably the rest of the world has started pushing back and expecting the US to comply with the rules from other places in the same way, instead of enjoying nothing but one-way traffic as it often has until quite recently.

Secondly, even if anywhere in the world did truly protect absolutely free speech, not all of us think that would be an improvement. For example, in much of Europe concepts like privacy and protecting personal data carry far more weight than they generally do in the US. In fact, it is illegal to export personal data from Europe to the US without special measures being used, because by default the US doesn't meet even our minimal legal standards for respecting individuals' privacy and personal data. But issues like free speech, privacy, anonymity or pseudonymity, and democracy are fundamentally interdependent and sometimes conflict, even before you consider more specific related issues like national security, policing, or copyright.

Finally, just as an aside, the recent "right to be forgotten" debate was triggered by a specific court case, and the rationale behind the decision is actually quite sensible. Again, there is now a fundamental tension between, on the one hand, benefitting from the free and open communication afforded by the Internet and from the ability to search for and access information on many subjects more easily than ever before, and on the other hand, preserving legal principles around justice, the protection of the innocent, and the rehabilitation of the guilty that have evolved over a long period in every civilised country of the world. The result in this particular case may seem at odds with technological reality, but that doesn't mean the principle or the logic are flawed, just that it isn't a good final solution yet. Your characterisation is also inaccurate, by the way, but I'll invite you to read some of the ample material that has been published about why the common misunderstanding you've described is wrong rather than getting sidetracked any further here.

There are no easy answers to any of these issues, but one thing is all but certain: throwing out everything our societies have learned over centuries about defending private lives and allowing people to move on from mistakes, just because a few Internet companies who have made staggering amounts of money might lose some of it if their business models were modestly inconvenienced, is not the only possible or potentially desirable way forward.

Comment: Re:They don't even know what they're offering (Score 1) 170

by TheRaven64 (#47574583) Attached to: Vint Cerf on Why Programmers Don't Join the ACM
The ACM is pretty good about open access. Every author can use their 'author-izer' service to create links that check the referrer but give free access to the papers, so if you can't get free access to an ACM-published paper from the author's web site, then complain to them, not to the ACM.

Comment: Re:It's not a marketplace.. (Score 1) 219

by TheRaven64 (#47574525) Attached to: Is the App Store Broken?

Yeah, lets compare a 40 year old monopoly company (making money w large contracts) to a bunch of small upstart developers (making money $0.99 at a time) and laugh.

Let's not. Let's compare the mobile app market to one company. The mobile app market has a number of small upstart developers making $0.99 at a time, but it also includes companies like IBM, Microsoft, Apple, Adobe, and a large number of software houses that are 20-40 years old, several of which have been on the receiving end of antitrust lawsuits.

Comment: What Publishers Do. (Score 2) 256

by Balinares (#47574099) Attached to: Amazon's eBook Math

Whenever this topic comes up, we end up discussing what publishers really do.

Every time, someone with some knowledge of how the publishing industry works turns up and explains how there is this long road between the author's draft and the book in your hands, made of editing, copy-editing, typesetting, cover design, marketing and more, and the publisher is the truck driver that sees the draft to the end of that road. That's correct.

But I've come to the conclusion that none of that is the one irreplaceable service publishers perform in the system.

All of the above can, to some extent, and for a fee, be performed just as well by independent contractors. (There are great independent editors out there, and aren't we all glad for that.)

The one important thing publishers do is: they take the loss on books that don't earn out.

Now hear me out.

I know how we, Slashdot readers, tend to think about those things. In our minds, if the book doesn't earn out (that is, it brings in less money than the publisher gave the author as an advance), then it's got to be someone's fault, right? Bad writer, bad publisher. Something.

Wrong.

The thing is, a successful book requires a lot of factors. Great writing doesn't suffice. The public is fickle. Yesterday, supernatural romance sold by the truckload, now it doesn't. GRRM was a great writer for decades before you even heard of him. Harry Potter didn't start hitting it big until three or four books into the series. Word of mouth matters, but only after the readership has exceeded a certain critical mass. And until then... someone has to take the loss.

Because, here's the thing. GRRM, Rowling, they're outliers. Many books -- most books, AFAIK -- don't quite earn out. Many deserve to, but don't, because that's not how the world works.

But they still got written, you still read some of them, you still loved some of them, and that only happened because someone, somewhere, was willing to pay an author to keep writing, and take the risk that the great book in their hands may not earn that money back.

And that, friends, is what publishers really do.

Comment: Re:Disengenous (Score 1) 256

by Balinares (#47573751) Attached to: Amazon's eBook Math

I hate to state the obvious, but right now Amazon is attempting to muscle in a 43% markup just to do, basically, cp /publisher/book.epub /customer/. There is no reason I can see to explain this large a margin for digital distribution. So I wouldn't necessarily trust them to keep prices all that low once they get free run of the market.

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