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Comment: Re:Stop resting on your laurels (Score 1) 291

The problem is that they know all their own libraries still make them money. People are still making from the White Album.

As that anchor is dragged forward, those artists and albums at the back stop making money for them. And then they realise that as that anchor is inexorably drawn forward from that point on, they lose more money every year because it's likely the new artists aren't making as much as the old back catalogues (maybe individual examples, but not overall).

And then they realise that, in 50 years time, when all they have to monetise is the junk that they've been churning out recently, they are dead in the water and the industry will struggle to sustain itself. They're not saving themselves for today, but for their retirement, when they're basing their business on people buying Britney Spears' back catalogue etc.

That said, any law that has to be revised the number of times that the copyright ones have should really be scrapped or made indefinite. If NOBODY in a certain industry (music industry, Disney, etc.) has ever seen their copyright expire, how on earth can we say that we need to legislate to extend that protection continually - and multiple times - without making the case that it should be indefinite or not?

I'm not saying that's a GOOD solution, but someone needs to review the time and money spent messing about extending laws to cover timeframes - including overruling laws retroactively - and either fix a date in stone or make it indefinite. Pretending that it will eventually end up in the public domain while that never being legally possible is just outright scumbaggery.

Comment: Common sense (Score 3) 278

by ledow (#49526881) Attached to: German Court Rules Adblock Plus Is Legal

If the software is running on the user's computer, at their express request, to do something - at the user's express request, then I can't see how you could rule any other way.

If we were talking about an online-only service that "proxies" the web for you and removes ads, then you may have more of a case, however.

And spyware that does it against or without user's consent (replacing other's adverts with your own, eh, Lenovo?) then that's a huge other matter entirely.

But it's like ruling that if the user WANTS to look at a plain-text version of a particular webpage then that's up to them. So long as the viewer is the one choosing to change the content and knows that, why would you ever think differently.

The alternative just doesn't bear thinking about. Websites DEMANDING that nothing interferes in the process of displaying their page as they intended. Unskippable ads, etc. like on DVD's. DRM for the web, effectively. No thanks.

Comment: Re:It's not surprising (Score 1) 129

by ledow (#49526147) Attached to: YouTube Going Dark On Older Devices

Erm... is it just me that immediately thinks of DVB-T here? That's exactly what happened.

In the UK we were pushed to upgrade to "digital" (DVB-T). Within a few years, DVB-T2 - an incompatible standard that required hardware upgrades - was actually required to support HDTV channels, and even the "extra" channels that couldn't fit on standard DVB.

Just being a standard doesn't stop obsoletion. Wireless shows you that. Within days of actually being ratified as a standard, the next wireless standard is in the works and people start pushing our pre-N or pre-AC products.

If anything, being "standard"is something that happens after the event, not before, and when provides basis for obsoletion. "You mean you've only got a HTML-4 browser? Our website requires HTML-5. Why? Because."

This is the cost of change, evolution and rapid development. Things get left behind, even if they were good products/services. It's not even necessarily deliberate. Who the hell is going to want to risk bricking your old devices by pushing a firmware update to a device they no longer sell, running on a chip that's no longer produced, with firmware that no longer has active development, to give you features that the old hardware can't use anyway (e.g. pushing HD or new codecs into the YouTube apps?). Nobody.

Comment: Re:BUY MORE (Score 1) 129

by ledow (#49526099) Attached to: YouTube Going Dark On Older Devices

I don't know if you've noticed but today's generation just ignores ads. I work in schools - the pupils do not see anywhere near as many ads as I did when I was a child. TV ads are dead - they are background noise. We've trained children to ignore all ads in games and online. Streaming services mean that ads have to be forced and - inevitably - the kids find a way to download without ads anyway.

I bet you could hum the tune to several hundreds ads if you went through one of those websites that shows you old ads from your country. The kids today? Probably only the extreme ones.

The more you force ads, the more you force people to ignore them if they can't bypass them. It's counter-productive.

Honestly, I think it's more to do with legacy code. Who has the code to some 10 year old early "smart" TV that ran on a custom chip that's not non-standard and unavailable, and so who's going to do the development and testing to push newer formats, HD, etc. down to that TV's firmware.

In my house alone, I have YouTube apps on several phones, a tablet, a cable box, an older cable box, a DVD player, a Blu-Ray player, a cheap DVB-S box, the original Wii, etc. To update all of those to newer formats, HD quality, etc. may not even be technically possible (which just generates more exceptions and differences in the codebase), plus any licensing, plus the risk of breaking the device, plus liaising with all the manufacturer's (most of whom just won't care as they're not selling that model any more), etc. It's just an enormous upheaval for zero gain.

And it's not just YouTube. BBC iPlayer suffers the same fate - all the above devices have BBC iPlayer apps on them too and some of those no longer work because it would need some cheap Chinese manufacturer to bother to develop, test and push a new firmware for a device they no longer sell (or, even if they do, represents a tiny portion of their sales in only a particular country). Just the risk of bricking something isn't worth the hassle of trying to update it.

We are certainly breeding a throw-away culture of technology because of this, yes, but that's not "enforced" so much as inevitable. A £20 DVD player with network connectivity and an iPlayer/YouTube app on it - if the app on that stops working? Who cares?

Just the development time alone to push out even the tiniest of working updates for devices like that is enormous. You might even find that the original development team, or even company, doesn't exist any more. Will consumers notice? Not really. They have ten devices that can do the same and they won't be turning on the DVD player to watch YouTube when they can ChromeCast it from their phone or whatever nowadays.

It's obsolescence but not necessarily deliberate and malicious obsolescence. Just necessity.

Comment: Re:Rugged Smartphone dock (Score 1) 96

by ledow (#49525917) Attached to: Optical Tech Can Boost Wi-Fi Systems' Capacity With LEDs

The entire first generations of handheld devices had irda, which is basically this.

Palm pilots etc. used it all the time.

It died for a reason - bluetooth took over. Because there's nothing optical data can do that radio data can't, plus radio never requires line-of-sight (it may benefit from it, but that's another matter).

What makes you think that optical connectors in docking stations are in any way superior to Bluetooth (which has stupendous data rates, more than enough distance, is incredibly low-powered and you can pick up transmitter/receivers for it for literally pence that are small enough to put into ANYTHING).

By comparison an IR LED and a light-sensor are slow (rise and fall times tend to kill fast transmissions), large, and inconvenient.

Comment: Re:missing the words OPEN SOURCE in the title (Score 1) 73

by ledow (#49525869) Attached to: Networking Library Bug Breaks HTTPS In ~1,500 iOS Apps

I'm sorry... were you under the impression that people have ever claimed that open-source means you can't get any bugs in it?

Then you're an idiot.

But don't let us stop you spreading your misinformation based on a complete misinterpretation of other people's statements about open-source code.

(P.S. You can't stop bugs in any code. But if this was a closed-source library, probably the only people who would ever know about it, see the buglist, would be able to fix it etc, would be the people who wrote it.)

Comment: IPv6 (Score 1) 381

by ledow (#49518159) Attached to: Why the Journey To IPv6 Is Still the Road Less Traveled

My external servers - all IPv6, publish AAAA records, all services available on IPv6.

My home - IPv6 compatible router, IPv6 compatible network, IPv6-compatible clients, even IPv6 VPN to my servers.

What I don't see - IPv6 compatible websites. Slashdot is not IPv6 reachable. Nor is The Register. If even the IT crowd can't manage it, what chance do other places have? But that's no big deal, so long as they're IPv4-reachable anyway.

What I don't have - an IPv6 compatible ISP.

I can't use any IPv6 protocol except for 6to4, but the local 6to4 relay is "not supported" by my ISP and not run by them. That puts me at the behest of whatever routing is set up for that magic 6to4 address at any given point.

Sure, I could go with Sixxs etc. but that requires all kinds of signup. It's actually easier to just VPN to my IPv6-ready external server over IPv5 and bypass worrying the in-between link entirely.

It works. It's up. I receive email from third-party servers solely over IPv6 every day.

And then, you find that Google mail and DNS is IPv6. The occasional website is IPv6. The odd mail server is IPv6. And nothing else. And they are all also on IPv4 too. All that hassle, hardware and configuration and I gain... nothing.

Until we literally say "IPv4 is going to be marked for obsoletion in 6 months, and routing for it will going off on the 1st of Jan 2016, worldwide", nothing is going to change. Absolutely nothing.

Slashdot - I'm invoking my rule again. You can post articles on the IPv6 deployment when you BOTHER to put a single AAAA record on your DNS.

Comment: Re:4x strategy when? (Score 1) 58

by ledow (#49509665) Attached to: Computer Beats Humans At Arimaa

You've just done what the programmers do. Introduce higher-level heuristics into the rules by pushing everything into blocks of actions.

No different to "find enemy", "target enemy", "shoot enemy". The problem is not breaking down a problem given the goal (in your example, every path taken to get from "I want to build a farm" to "I have built a farm here" is equal-cost to the computer) - a simple optimisation removes them from the tree, yes.

But then you either get them, say, building on tiles that are the most at risk from attack because "it doesn't matter which tile". You know that because you infer it from other information, the computer doesn't. Either it has to specifically check EVERY time (game tree), or pick a random / northernmost grassland to upgrade first (programmed heuristic).

Although the exact tree is prunable, the above is the way to get yourself into the same order of magnitude. And computers can, and do, and will struggle with trees of that magnitude for even simple actions unless they are following heuristics.

But, the biggest part you've skipped over - knowing that you need a farm to do X to do Y to do Z in N moves time is the real struggle, the real key. Optimising a tree for the low-hanging fruit (pardon the pseudo-pun) is trivial and can be done automatically and save you a handful of necessary steps.

But what if the system is attacked halfway through the process? Do we abandon? Start again? Fight on valiantly until we get where we want no matter the cost? How do we decide we need a farm? That's where the VAST majority of the game tree decisions are made and that's where the decision matters and THAT'S the difficult question to answer such that a computer can't do it in real-time given the possibilities and the impact of those. Or you'll see it build farms while you quietly strip away its land, units, etc. and it won't "notice".

Think of pathfinding, because that's what you're doing (just through a "directed graph"). There is no difference, to the computer, between A* pathfinding through a terrain and working out the best way through a game tree.

Some routes are muddy and slow you down, some routes lead to loops where you come back to where you are, some routes take more "steps" but get you there quicker, some routes are only a single step but take forever to walk through, some steps are more risky, some steps are safer.

Evaluating those for a computer means enumerating them, and their children, and their grandchildren - and virtually all of them until there's a point that you know it's definitely worse than some other route. How deep you go down the tree increases the complexity, but also increases the chance you have a strategy that works in the long-run. Not traversing to a certain depth means you're only thinking in the short-term.

And every time you enumerate some risk, factor or cost, you are required to formulate it into a single calculation ("edge cost" in graph theory terms). That means giving it a weighting (heuristics!) or determining a weighting dynamically, performing calculations, maybe looking at the surrounding areas (this path is quicker but is nearer the enemy etc.).

I studied graph theory for several years at uni. This stuff sounds really basic, boring, easy and predictable. We all know how mini-max algorithms work on simple games like draughts/checkers. But as soon as you try to scale to anything even vaguely complex you see factors, costs and weighting that are required and which greatly affect the performance of the search (and, hence, the AI).

If there are only 10-20 options like explore and they each take, say, 10 turns to complete, then the computer is only making a decision every 10 turns in effect. Which means it can't react. Sure, you could program an interrupt on certain events. But then it might ignore your attack for 5 turns so being "dumb" and giving you an advantage. Or if you interrupt it every turn with SOMETHING, it's basically back to having to evaluate every single move.

Computer AI is just a series of programmed heuristics and shortcuts to make the real game-tree-traversal possible and practical precisely because they get too large otherwise. The programmed heuristics are basically programmed orders, programmed weaknesses, programmed ignorance. That's where the AI falls down. Someone has told it that "a knight is worth three pawns" in effect, and while that's a general rule that children are introduced to, even they know that it's not a written-in-stone rule to be obeyed every exchange. It's much more complex than that. Someone, somewhere has told the AI in Civilisation, etc. that losing X unit is half as costly as losing Y unit, or building tile Z.

Without those rules, the game tree is too huge to traverse in time. With those rules, the AI is crippled by hard-coded, predictable actions. And there's also the problem that NOBODY wants to play against an unbeatable AI and the only point we can put in a limit is the game-tree depth, or use of heuristics.

And, proper, true, real AI (and human intelligence) is about forming those rules on their own just by playing enough, and knowing when to break those rules as the situation has differed too much. We do it by inference, which you can't program. AI can't yet do it except by things like neural nets etc. which - while useful - have major limitations.

Otherwise, literally, all the Age of Empires modding community could have made a quick, unbeatable AI in the 15-years since it's release and the modding community being able to program their own AI. I used to tweak the QuakeC code for Quake bots back in the day. Things like OpenTTD (and TTDPatch, which is decades old) have allowed huge communities of clever people to create bots to play against on a game which those people are ABSOLUTELY expert at. Yet, still, the bots don't challenge a seasoned player unless they cheat.

Game-tree depth is the killer. And as soon as you prune a branch, you've introduced a heuristic which is a predictable weakness in the AI's operation.

Comment: Re:The UK Government Are Massively Out Of Touch (Score 1, Insightful) 190

by ledow (#49509467) Attached to: Assange Talk Spurs UK Judges To Boycott Legal Conference

I'm anti-Assange.

He skipped UK bail. Up until then, I thought he was just an idiot, now he's a criminal idiot.

However, if anything, technically protecting Assange could be seen as protecting a suspected rapist, no?

Sorry, but he's no hero. The stuff from Wikileaks is a bunch of useless junk that didn't change anything. Snowden did a hundred times more at a hundred times the risk. The quicker he gives up, is arrested, spends time in a UK jail and then gets passed away to another country (legally) and stops me paying my part of MILLIONS OF POUNDS OF TAX to capture him legally, the better.

I have zero sympathy for him. He was going through the courts, doing things legally, and spouting his mouth off. When he exhausted every possible appeal that way and STILL we found it legal to extradite him, he fled UK bail. My sympathy wasn't all that great for him all that time, anyway, but ended at that moment. The UK did its best to find a way out for him, but legally we are OBLIGED to hand him over, and we didn't just fabricate that law at the last moment for this case. That's the end of the matter.

And when he's released, he'll stand his charge of skipping bail, be extradited anyway, and then NOTHING will happen if what he says is true.

Comment: Re:Law Conference? (Score 3, Interesting) 190

by ledow (#49509437) Attached to: Assange Talk Spurs UK Judges To Boycott Legal Conference

A fugitive is the antithesis of the organisation, conference and attendees. It's a conference for and about the legal profession. As far as I'm aware, Assange has zero legal qualifications whatsoever.

That's like saying you should invite a convicted paedophile to your school safety talk, or a rapist to your rape counselling group. Maybe it SOUNDS good and fair and balanced, but the practicality is insanely stupid.

Criminals (and Assange is one, legally speaking, in the UK for skipping UK court bail) DO NOT get a say in how their justice system handles them, or invited to conferences about the legal profession. Reasonable outsiders make sure the law is fair and balanced for all, but the criminals themselves? No.

Comment: Re:Really (Score 4, Insightful) 190

by ledow (#49509347) Attached to: Assange Talk Spurs UK Judges To Boycott Legal Conference

Again, the issue is NOT what other countries want.

While in the UK, under an English court's bail, he breached his bail conditions.

Everything else is a side-issue to whether he's actually a fugitive in the UK or not. Any country with an interest can register it and we'll send him on as and when the law requires. But, at the moment, he's committed a UK crime on UK soil, and stupidly against a UK court.

If he gets out of the embassy, he'll be arrested FOR THAT INSTANTLY PROVABLE CHARGE first. Then we'll worry about everything else but - pretty much - we'd agreed (and it was legally correct for us to agree without changes to existing laws to accommodate that) to extradite him to Sweden. We made them go back several times to dot their i's and cross their t's in that regard and refused to release him to them until it was done. That's sorted.

So he'll come out. Be arrested. Stand charge for skipping bail (evidence is overwhelming including by his own admission - because him being in the embassy is a breach of bail conditions in and of itself - and it's quite obvious it was a wilful violation). Then we'll hand him over to Sweden as we're legally required to (now that they've sorted out the paperwork, but as a member of the EU policing laws we would always have been eventually subject to doing so anyway - the US is a different matter entirely that would need a court's approval, and that court would be the one in Sweden, not the UK). Then whatever happens to him is Sweden's problem. If they extradite him to the US, they better do it REALLY carefully or else Sweden will be in breach of the same EU policing laws that it's using to get hold of him in the first place (they would have to reasonably ensure his life was not endangered by doing so, for instance).

But, first and foremost, he's a wanted CRIMINAL in the UK for skipping bail (we don't really use the word fugitive). It's like getting Al Capone on tax evasion, but cross-territory. And all the UK care about is the bail. Everything else is someone else's problem because we're not dealing direct with any US transfer where the only real scrutiny of human rights, etc. need take place (it's laid down in law that we can assume other EU member provide adequate human rights to comply with UK law, for example).

Comment: Re:America (Score 2) 119

by ledow (#49509137) Attached to: Pull-Top Can Tabs, At 50, Reach Historic Archaeological Status

Sorry, but you're wrong.

"The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom or Britain, is a sovereign state in Europe."

We are in the continent of Europe (as is Greenland). We are in the EU. We are not on the European mainland but neither is Iceland or Ireland, also both considered part of Europe (one even uses the Euro), and a few other places.

We are in the EU (for which you have to be, well, on the continent of Europe!). We were in the EC / EEC before that.

We're not AUTOMATICALLY part of various European entities, and enjoy certain exceptions, but we are quite clearly on the European continent, in European organisations, and part of Europe even if we don't consider ourselves European. It would like the US not considering itself part of North America.

As a Brit, I'll tell you that we joke and talk about Europe like a foreign place, but we're part of it. In the same way that someone in Singapore might tell you they're going around Asia for their holidays.

We don't, however, use the Euro (neither does Iceland and a few other European countries). Mainly because the pound has proven to be much stronger, but given that the UK's biggest strength is in finance, that's not surprising.

An elephant is a mouse with an operating system.