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Comment: Re:People who who work with kids also use fake nam (Score 1) 156

by swillden (#48046901) Attached to: Facebook Apologizes To Drag Queens Over "Real Name" Rule

Teachers and counsellors often don't want the kids they work with to be able to easily find them on facebook, so they use fake names. I have many friends who do this. So far they haven't been affected by any rule enforcement.

Well, that's one solution. Another is for them to use their real name on Facebook and a fake name in class... some hilarious options come to mind.

Comment: Re:EUCD is (approximately) DMCA for the UK (Score 2) 26

by Anonymous Brave Guy (#48046869) Attached to: UK Copyright Reforms Legalize Back-Ups, Protect Parody

But the law doesn't say, for example, that you have a legally protected right to make back-ups. It just says that making back-ups under certain conditions doesn't infringe copyright, which is a completely different statement.

The guys who negotiated these laws are not new at this. These changes have been in negotiation and consultation for several years, and despite the apparent wishful thinking of many posting in this Slashdot discussion, they didn't get to that process and then accidentally give away the keys to the kingdom without noticing.

Comment: Re:uhh (Score 1) 509

by swillden (#48046853) Attached to: Elon Musk: We Must Put a Million People On Mars To Safeguard Humanity
I don't think colonizing before terraforming (assuming we even bother) is putting the cart before the horse, unless you assume that the only way humans can live is on an Earth-like planet. Why should we limit ourselves that way? As for needing more advanced technology, the way you push technology forward is by trying to solve specific problems. Basic research is also useful, but directed, focused efforts get farther, faster.

Comment: Re:the solution: (Score 1) 531

by swillden (#48046809) Attached to: The $1,200 DIY Gunsmithing Machine

The point is that freedom of speech and association are far, far more important than the ability to carry cool looking guns, in terms of actually getting anything done politically.

Up to a point, that's true. But you simply raise the same question again: Are you arguing that since we're letting some of our rights slip we should also let the 2A go? Or do you believe that if we ignored the 2A that would some how make it easier to defend freedom of speech and association? I'd argue that it would help to undermine them, by providing yet another precedent showing that the "living Constitution" means whatever we want it to, making it meaningless.

The US's privately held arsenal has so far been useless in preventing the creation of a semi-fascist state.

Because it hasn't yet gotten bad enough to justify large-scale rebellion. Let us hope that it never does.

I think that the right to keep and bear arms serves two functions in this respect. The first is that it preserves at least a semblance of the ability to resist tyranny by force. The subtler and perhaps more important function is as a bellwether... and a trigger.

Comment: What would I have instead? (Score 2) 26

by Anonymous Brave Guy (#48046691) Attached to: UK Copyright Reforms Legalize Back-Ups, Protect Parody

What would you have?

Personally, in an ideal world but one where we accept the basic principle of copyright as a reasonable economic tool? I'd have:

1. 100% effective DRM. (Yes, really, but read on for what balances it.)

2. Compulsory escrow for any work being distributed commercially with DRM applied, and criminal sanctions for those who fail to provide the unprotected content to the relevant regulatory authority.

3. Much shorter copyright durations, probably varying by industry/type of work and dictated by what creates a reasonable commercial incentive but not an excessive one in each context, which I suspect would be around 5-10 years in most cases.

4. Original creators keeping the master copyright to any work they do, so big media distributors can only ever have exclusive licensing for relatively short periods (maybe 1-2 years) after which they have to renegotiate with the original creators if they want to renew their licence.

In short, I would give the creators primary control for the duration of the copyright, I would make big distribution channels into a market that is subservient to creators rather than the other way around, and then within that structure, members of the general public get a clear choice to enjoy a work immediately on whatever terms the market will support (one-off purchase, rental, library subscription, etc.) or to wait a significant but not absurd length of time until the work enters the public domain forever.

In shorter, I'd screw the distributor middlemen, make copyright back into something that provides a reasonable incentive to create and share good works, and make the default legal position that everyone can enjoy everything once that incentive has done its job.

Comment: Re:Also interesting for what they missed out (Score 3, Informative) 26

by Anonymous Brave Guy (#48046551) Attached to: UK Copyright Reforms Legalize Back-Ups, Protect Parody

This is not America, there is no DMCA.

What does America have to do with anything? This is about the UK, I live in the UK, and I'm talking about UK law. Here we have the EUCD, which is hardly "murky" on this matter, and the relevant provisions have been incorporated into UK law for around a decade now.

When do you think this hasn't held up in court? There have been various cases elsewhere in Europe where things like mod chips have survived a court challenge in various ways. However, in the UK, the judiciary seems to have taken a very consistent and pro-rightsholder view in such cases so far.

Also, what "clearer law saying something is specifically allowed" do you think applies here? The changes taking effect today have little to say about TPMs.

Perhaps you should read the Intellectual Property Office guidance (PDF) about this issue. Pay particular attention to the FAQ on page 4, where for example it notes:

However, you should note that media, such as DVDs and e-books, can still be protected by technology which physically prevents copying and circumvention of such technology remains illegal.

Or just go straight to reading the changes themselves, which are written in legalese but clear enough for a non-lawyer to understand.

Comment: EUCD is (approximately) DMCA for the UK (Score 1) 26

by Anonymous Brave Guy (#48046447) Attached to: UK Copyright Reforms Legalize Back-Ups, Protect Parody

That's not how I read the BBC article, but if that is what it meant then it is wrong.

We have the EUCD here, which in somewhat similar to the DMCA. In fact, it is arguably stricter in this particular area, because it covers not only access control mechanisms but also copy protection mechanisms. The relevant details of the EU directive have been incorporated into UK law for roughly a decade.

Rightsholders can therefore pursue not only those circumventing such technical measures but also those making or distributing the equipment used to do so, and in some cases this can fall under criminal rather than civil law. Moreover, this has actually happened, for example in the Sony PS2 mod chip case.

Comment: Re:Also interesting for what they missed out (Score 3, Interesting) 26

by Anonymous Brave Guy (#48046281) Attached to: UK Copyright Reforms Legalize Back-Ups, Protect Parody

At least it's not illegal to [circumvent technical measures].

Yes, it still is. That's the point. Almost all of the theoretical benefits of these changes can immediately be nullified, because all the content provider has to do is apply technical measures and then breaking those measures remains against the law even if the copy would otherwise now be legal.

Comment: Also interesting for what they missed out (Score 4, Interesting) 26

by Anonymous Brave Guy (#48046125) Attached to: UK Copyright Reforms Legalize Back-Ups, Protect Parody

This is progress of a sort, though it has been a very long road with many false starts.

Even so, it's interesting to see what they didn't include. For example, notice that almost none of the changes affect software at all, nor do they help at all with content that is protected by technical measures for DRM purposes.

In other words, those who want to remain legal are still at the mercy of content providers doing things that may or may not work reliably, may or may not interfere with the normal operation of computers/mobile devices, may or may not cause huge problems with restoring access to purchased content if such devices fail, etc.

Don't be fooled. A lot of the apparent improvements in this new law are immediately negated by technical measures.

Comment: Re:Is this news? (Score 2) 124

by Anonymous Brave Guy (#48046077) Attached to: UK Government Tax Disc Renewal Website Buckles Under Pressure

To follow up: I just spotted a note at the end of one of the articles suggesting that it wasn't actually the government's own systems that fell over, but rather something provided by Vodafone. I suppose that raises questions about why a system like this would need the services of a company like Vodafone for its implementation, but presumably this at least puts the outage in the "more subtlety in the real world implementation" group, which is reassuring in some ways.

Comment: Re:Is this news? (Score 1) 124

by Anonymous Brave Guy (#48046047) Attached to: UK Government Tax Disc Renewal Website Buckles Under Pressure

Also, we're talking about a system that fundamentally just needs to collect some money and then update a simple database, on a scale of only thousands of users per day. If it weren't for the inevitable security/privacy/reliability concerns because this is an official government system, it's the kind of project a new web developer might write as an exercise in a day and a single properly configured web server would be expected to handle the entire load even at peak times.

Even with those concerns, I am struggling to imagine how you could build a system with such simple fundamental requirements that falls over on its first day of service. The post mortem for the outage would be interesting to see; either someone was spectacularly incompetent or there is a lot more subtlety (or artificial complexity) behind the real world implementation of this system than we might expect from the outside.

Comment: Re: Here's the solution (Score 1) 493

by Anonymous Brave Guy (#48045889) Attached to: Will Windows 10 Finally Address OS Decay?

If you want to install software that hasn't got into your distribution's package management system - you should compile it, make package and install package.

I've heard that argument before, but if we're assuming the behaviour of make install/make uninstall is sufficiently non-trivial to worry about the system getting messy, how are you supposed to make that package without becoming an expert on what each piece of software's make install would have done anyway? The closest I've seen to automating this process is tools like checkinstall, but since make install can do arbitrary things, no automation tool can be fully trusted if you haven't vetted the makefile behaviour first.

Comment: Re:uhh (Score 1) 509

by Teancum (#48043647) Attached to: Elon Musk: We Must Put a Million People On Mars To Safeguard Humanity

No, Elon Musk was actually at a point where not only these companies were in risk of bankruptcy (noting also that he personally guaranteed much of the debt of these companies too, not to mention having fiduciary responsibility over the debt of these companies as CEO), but that he even was in debt at this time too.

You are simply wrong. He was very much at risk of personal bankruptcy too and definitely losing everything he had.

Comment: Re:Profitable, if self-contradictory (Score 1) 509

by Teancum (#48043639) Attached to: Elon Musk: We Must Put a Million People On Mars To Safeguard Humanity

I'm glad to know that you are so cognizant of the future that you can possibly anticipate that nobody in the future will possibly develop any sort of technique or capability for capturing or restoring intelligences and personalities of those who currently are alive, may have been in the past, or will be in the future.

That is the kind of prophecy that really requires some sort of religious faith.

I'm not asserting that such technology will ever be developed, but it is silly to think it could never happen too.

Comment: Re:FP? (Score 1) 853

by MightyYar (#48043615) Attached to: David Cameron Says Brits Should Be Taught Imperial Measures

The weirdest mixture is how the American military uses meters for horizontal distances, but feet for vertical distances.

We use "mils" in the semiconductor industry, and they also did in the paint/coating industry when I worked in it 20 years ago. A "mil" is a thousandth of an inch... a milli-inch! This can lead to some funny mixes, like "grams per square mil" for shear force measurements.

"When it comes to humility, I'm the greatest." -- Bullwinkle Moose