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Comment: Trackballin' (Score 1) 361

by Xtense (#45670447) Attached to: How long do your computer mice last?

As I suffer from multiple sclerosis, my right hand isn't what it used to be - operating a mouse became incredibly hard, so I switched to a thumb-operated trackball (M570). After a not too long learning period and honing my precision, I am now 100% trackballed.

That said, however, this is actually my third trackball in three years. The first one was a victim of my stupidity: it stopped working on me, I opened it up, found that the battery connectors are so shoddily put together that if you put in a battery enough times, they'll just slide off. After sliding them back in, I didn't fully control my sick hand and ripped off one of the capacitors. Unfortunately, my days of soldering were over and I had no one to help me, so I had to buy a replacement. The second one had a strange fault, also engineering-related, or maybe transport damage, no idea. It also stopped working on me, I opened it up and, not seeing any problem, I was literally stumped. It so happened that I accidentally touched a capacitor with a probe, and boom - it's working. I angled the capacitor a little, thinking maybe the connectors weren't properly soldered in, and, a couple months later, it's still working. In the meantime I found a deskjob that required using a pointer, so I bought a third one, which keeps working without fail... for now.

I wish more companies would make thumb-operated trackballs - a frontal trackball isn't a good solution for my right hand, and I fear the whole concept of a trackball will soon be a thing of the past.

Comment: Frank Herbert smiles from beyond (Score 2) 178

by Xtense (#45398843) Attached to: Desert Farming Experiment Yields Good Initial Results

"To the people whose labors go beyond ideas into the realm of 'real materials'- to the dry-land ecologists, wherever they may be, in whatever time they work, this effort at prediction is dedicated in humility and admiration."
        âFrank Herbert

Not accounting for the usability of this exact piece of science in a practical setting, we will develop further. I salute you guys, you're the thankless people who are doing actual work making this world a better place. Thank you.

Comment: Re:Pre-election laws (Score 1) 339

by Xtense (#41462447) Attached to: Brazilian Judge Orders 24-hour Shutdown of Google and Youtube

And basically here is the crux of the problem the politicians seem to have with the Internet - they literally treat it as a singularly-owned company that can be strongarmed to subscribe to their notions of legality.

I really like your example of AM/FM radio stations, because it is much more closer to how the Internet functions than how a TV station might. Sure, if needed, the Internet can be limited, or even cut off entirely to an area of a country - this is within the realm of economically viable technical possibility. The significant difference here is that clients connecting to Youtube really are acting like radios tuned to your stations, that is - the user has to facilitate the receiving somehow. In this example, our ISPs take on the role of uncontrolled radio-waves.

We seem to break down on the have-office->respect-law line. I understand that completely, and actually I really do agree with this - it's just that in this particular case i find it hard to accept that any law was actually broken, since Youtube as a whole is not actively "broadcasting" on Brazil's territory - it's just... connected to the Internet. If someone wants to request youtube's server, no problem - but doing so, it should be the user who is liable to potentially breaking the law. The provider himself would only be liable if he was operating illegally where the actual servers hosting the material are standing, and the facilitator has no way of knowing whether his client has any illegal actions in mind. The datacenters are standing in the US as far as we know, and those materials are not illegal in the US, so Brazil telling Google to take down something that is not illegal where it is hosted and penalizing them for not complying is, in my opinion, an excessive use of local law.

Comment: Re:Pre-election laws (Score 1) 339

by Xtense (#41462117) Attached to: Brazilian Judge Orders 24-hour Shutdown of Google and Youtube

So let's see here: in your example, the actual laws broken are:

Using stolen credit cards (only i am liable, since i am the buyer, the connections originated from my computer and i accepted the transaction, you weren't involved in the buying process in any way - and, also, this is a crime in both countries, which a major and important difference in our case).
Tax dodging (we're both liable in theory, depends too much on individual import/VAT laws - not applicable in our case since packets are not dutiable)
Willingly aiding in commiting a crime in your country (you're only liable if you knew - this has to be proven before the court.)

The example is flawed because it tries to translate packets as physical goods being transferred, while (together with me!) THE INTERNET DOES NOT WORK THAT WAY. This is also where the similarities break down: you were not "hosting packages" - if anything, you acted as a proxy server. The shops were our hosting services and they are not liable for accepting stolen credit cards since they have no way of knowing. Returning the money and demanding the return of goods, of course - but that is a whole different set of laws.

The basis of it all is that the Internet does not translate well to real life, and, as such, requires a whole new set of laws to accurately represent what is actually happening between computers.

Now: accessing the video.
And i understand the fault lies in the hoster of the video that the video can be accessed, not the actual facilitator of the connection, e.g. an ISP? On whose behalf was the connection initiated - youtube, or a client requesting it? The ISP acts as you in your example, a proxy towards receiving illegal materials. Now, whether the proxy can be liable for that is a whole another story, but it would be cosmically retarded if the ISP had to monitor what you browse whether you're breaking any laws - as with you, whether the purchases I make are with stolen credit cards or not. The burden of proof lies on the accuser, not the accused.

The last example is just a matter of how the laws are formed and ratified - if I were prosecuted under any of them, it is due to it being ratified in the country where the content was hosted - so, in essence, i really would be prosecuted under local law, it's just that the local law specifies a distinct form of action under it - that is, extradition and allowing prosecution under laws in a different country. An important semantic difference!

Comment: Re:Obligatory (Score 3, Interesting) 339

by Xtense (#41461985) Attached to: Brazilian Judge Orders 24-hour Shutdown of Google and Youtube

We have almost exactly the same laws as Brazil over here in Poland regarding the pre-election period (the so-called "Electorial Silence", where no campaigning is permitted). Since recovering from the USSR, the only thing this law was good for is getting the tv and radio to STFU. Meanwhile, corruption during this period ran rampant - the currently ruling party was almost always running its shady business during this period, while the opposing parties were buying votes and otherwise screwing with the voting process. They were caught multiple times, but due to the law, it was forbidden to report on it during this period.

So no, I don't think this is actually a very good law.

Comment: Re:Pre-election laws (Score 2) 339

by Xtense (#41461827) Attached to: Brazilian Judge Orders 24-hour Shutdown of Google and Youtube

So what you're saying is that i could upload some anti-government stuff onto Youku or whatever is China's Youtube equivalent and the company would be liable just by virtue of residing in the local jurisdiction, even if the country of origin of the upload and the hosting servers themselves were outside the country?

Unacceptable.

I understand how it works NOW, but to me this is a critical case of legal vacuum, where current laws do not accurately reflect reality - punishing the carrier for something that is expressly legal where the service is provided (and the service is hosting video, which you then download for viewing. Accessing the video is something your ISP does, since that means connecting to the Internet) rather than the content creator/uploader is counter-productive, while banning access to the content provider also targets legitimate users. Penalizing a company which happens to host the content just because it has offices in your country is wrong, since they are penalizing them for a crime they did not, in actual fact, commit, that is - hosting an infringing video on the territory of Brazil.

That said, it works both ways - downloading some content and putting it up outside of the original jurisdiction switches the law's applicability to the exact place where the content is hosted, NOT where it is accessible from. If I suddenly decide to rehost some pirated movies, there is no law from the originating country that can be applicable in this situation - only local laws.

Comment: Obligatory (Score 4, Insightful) 339

by Xtense (#41461663) Attached to: Brazilian Judge Orders 24-hour Shutdown of Google and Youtube

I hate trotting out this quote every so often, but...

"As the Americans learned so painfully in Earth's final century, free flow of information is the only safeguard against tyranny. The once-chained people whose leaders at last lose their grip on information flow will soon burst with freedom and vitality, but the free nation gradually constricting its grip on public discourse has begun its rapid slide into despotism. Beware of he who would deny you access to information, for in his heart he dreams himself your master."

Commissioner Pravin Lal
"U.N. Declaration of Rights"

From Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri.

Comment: Re:Pre-election laws (Score 2) 339

by Xtense (#41461509) Attached to: Brazilian Judge Orders 24-hour Shutdown of Google and Youtube

I disagree whether the censorship is good or whether good censorship actually exists. I understand the existence of pre-election silence laws (though I may not entirely understand why they're there in the first place - wouldn't it be better to be able to inform yourself about whom you might vote on no matter the period of the voting process? But that's beside the point), but in this case local laws are used to enforce upon content hosted outside the country, which just isn't acceptable. You could make the tired argument that THE INTERNET DOES NOT WORK THAT WAY, but what actually bothers me is that the lawmakers have no idea what it actually is - i mean, what's to stop me from uploading the same video to every other video hosting site out there (other than personal convenience of course)? The Internet is NOT tv. The Internet is NOT radio. The Internet is NOT a centrally-governed and representable entity. Don't like it? Don't participate.

Comment: Re:Ah yes, Poland (Score 1) 148

by Xtense (#41090355) Attached to: Polish MP Returns iPad Citing Lack of Control

You know, I expected this kind of comment sooner or later, though mostly as sarcasm, but since you're being serious, I will answer truthfully. There is a fundamental problem with this suggestion:

I don't want to.

Power corrupts, always, and even if I remain "on course" with my proceedings, that is strengthening the country, I am sure that i would not remain unaffected, at best playing this situation to my own strength, Vetinari style, or, at worst, seeing no problem with being corrupt. Also, I would need to grime my way up through the existing connections, letting it all up on my suit, in essence making me no better than the corrupt structure already in place. There is no place left for an "influential leader type" - both the major parties and Palikot tried that earlier, trying to use existing outrage to put themselves higher, with, at best, mixed results. Conspiracy theorists over here even speculate that those in power themselves create events that divide the country into POfags and PiSlamists. You can trust me when I say there is really no way for a grassroots movement to gain traction without help from the Big Guys - and if you use it, you've already lost - they'll mold you however they want.

Besides, if I tried talking to my neighbours right now, thanks to making politics a very divisive and essentially uncool topic, they'd rather think that i ate some Cowbane than me being serious. :)

Comment: Re:Ah yes, Poland (Score 1) 148

by Xtense (#41085861) Attached to: Polish MP Returns iPad Citing Lack of Control

Ah, sorry, it is most often forgotten that we were dependant on the Soviets up until 1989, but I rarely press the issue - the most important "bits" are very recent and have been reported better than I could summarize.

While it is true that we were very dependant on Soviet help for rebuilding and reconstruction after the war, the truth is our local representatives had a lot more power than initially credited, in turn leading me to believe that we could play for a lot more than we finally received. For at least 30 years we were definitely too weak to, lets say, "start any shit", but after that it was a question of a highly divided state - the ruling Party, supported by the Army, Police and Intelligence forces, and "the rest". And, for a time... it was good. It really was - we were riding high on borrowed money (which we still haven't paid), building things like crazy, jumpstarting our industry and, although having highly censored materials, especially concerning history (which explains why it is so hard to get a straight WW2 story here), educating ourselves (My parents recall a time when they could basically choose from several different offers of work as teachers.) - all things we severely needed after the war. But how does this relate to me calling the ruling class idiots? The hardest perhaps to accept is that the ruling class were, essentially, Polish, with very few "imports" from outside the country. They were, without fear of overstating, "pampered" by the Soviets and, well, preferred their luxuries than press independence. This is a particularly hard topic since it is nearly impossible to tell the extent of both the corruption and how much at risk we'd be if we flipped Stalin the bird sooner. Personally, i think we could, but probably with more bloodshed, so in the end it worked better to wait while the USSR rotted from the inside. When the supply troubles started, with food becoming harder to obtain, the Solidarity movement could enter the scene.

This is where things start getting a bit funny.

The highlight was of course enacting Martial Law, with lethal shots fired on the protesters. But... Poland as a whole seems unsure whether Martial Law was needed. Some praise gen. Jaruzelski for instating it, believing that it saved us a Soviet intervention, while others call him a war criminal who needs a bullet to the head. This is, historically, a very recent issue and documents are still being gathered relating to this whole mess. From time to time you see various revisionist attempts here to paint the whole matter in a different light. It is still very fluid, with multiple seemingly "legitimate" sources of information, so I would rather wait for one version before critically reevaluating it. The general himself states that he has "no regrets" about enacting it.

Comment: Re:Ah yes, Poland (Score 1) 148

by Xtense (#41084519) Attached to: Polish MP Returns iPad Citing Lack of Control

Ah, this is one of them war questions. No matter what I say right now, in Poland I'd have a mininum of 20 daughter posts within seconds, 16 of which were calling me various names, with differing levels of vulgarity. Truth to be told, I wrote that number mostly under the influence of emotions, but I'll try to entertain your question as best as possible.

This all depends on whom do you treat as a "governing entity" in wartime Poland. We've got a choice between the invading forces, the Government-In-Exile, or the various leftwing/rightwing Resistance movements who had localized, but enforced "power". For obvious reasons i will not discuss the invaders. I will instead focus on the GIO. Operating from abroad, they had limited capability of actually governing anything, nevertheless their word was the final word - it was just very hard to get them to say anything at all due to communication issues, so the AK was mostly locally governed.

WW2 Poland was hell. No movie so far tells the whole story. We can talk all we want about the concentration camps, forced labour, or forced expulsion - these issues are so hard, so convoluted, but also so fresh in the minds of the older generation, that there is really no way to try to say anything without convoluting those issues even more - some will call you insensitive and some will tell you you're lying. The smart thing to do is just not discuss those and wait for the eventual untangling of this mess.

Following are my own opinions supported mostly by history books and interviews with the veterans themselves. This is not a complete picture. This is most probably not entirely true. This is very much biased.

The AK had free reign, but couldn't control all of its assets properly. Logistical problems, differing political backgrounds for some companies and the whole damn reality of it all were the main problems. There was a need for restructuring everything, appointing officers and establishing contact, which pre-Internet was very hard to do - and it was doable, but the AK decided that saving lives was more important and focused on a fighting retreat, which inevitably caused those left behind the lines to lose contact with Base. This is the first major decision i do not agree with - it was much better to, while leading a fighting retreat, leave localized representatives of the AK for making sure there was any method of organizing a guerilla movement. Alas, it was not so. Those left behind the lines, with help from the local populace, formed the local Polish Resistant Movements and had localized power over different regions. Their policies were drastically different from each other, some would be even considered barbaric by todays standards. The AK issued an official statement that such barbaric practices are considered treason and the perpetrators were subject to penalty of death by shooting. The statements were sometimes, unfortunately, not received or outright ignored and a small amount of self-governed cells of the PRM, while focusing on fighting off the invaders, were also realizing their own xenophobic and racist policies.

In essence, Poland as a singular-governed entity, ceased to exist in any other form than people living on it's territory called themselves Polish.

About this part becomes incredibly hazy due to differing and conflicting accounts - the best we have are from the biggest cities, like Warsaw, thanks to the very active Polish Underground, who saved lots of documents and photos. We have confirmed that there was a central and effective organization within Warsaw, with lots and lots of sabotaging activity done. There was a central governing entity called the Polish Underground State, which, even though very limited in scope, provided food, safe passage and quarters to undesirables. Mentioning Warsaw without mentioning the Warsaw Uprising just won't do: although opinions are divided whether it was an important patriotic drive or senseless loss of life, the truth is the Uprising was organized under information that we would have outside support both from the UK/USA side (Roosevelt and Churchill were vehemetely discussing that with Stalin at the time, who wouldn't budge - but to Churchill's credit, he sent supply airdrops to Warsaw ignoring Stalin's no-fly directive, while Roosevelt waited for the goahead) and from the Russians. What followed was the fighters fighting entirely alone, and the Russians... well, the Russians were waiting for us to "tire out" the Germans so that they could step triumphantly inside Warsaw as the beloved rescuers. What actually happened is Germans regrouping and basically levelling Warsaw to the fucking ground, with Polish forces having no other choice than to surrender - Stalin's forces entered Warsaw two whole years of retributory hell later.

Was the Warsaw Uprising a good choice? Honestly, I have no idea - this was a turning point for the whole war, that's for sure, but if placed under command at that time, would I give the order? With help promised from the Allies, hell yes I would. It's just a shame being royally fucked over by everyone.

But, as the old saying goes, Madry Polak Po Szkodzie ("it's easy to be wise after the event").

Comment: Ah yes, Poland (Score 5, Interesting) 148

by Xtense (#41081037) Attached to: Polish MP Returns iPad Citing Lack of Control

The land I was born in, the land that I grew up in, the land that I live in and the land that I love... ...with some of the worst (or best, depending on your definition of the word) politicians I've ever seen. You have to understand - they don't use those iPads for anything other than browsing porn ( http://www.komputerswiat.pl/media/2012/187/2456339/porno-tablety-sejm-1.jpg ) or funnyjunk-like equivalents. They're wasting money - and they're wasting our money, because the iPads were state-funded. We're letting them do that - and there is nothing we can do to change that.

This isn't just some generic "politics == stupid" sentiment - this is a matter of analyzing at least the major decisions of the last 100 years and coming to the conclusion that the decisionmakers are idiots. It would be at least comforting to know that the voters are aware of it, but no dice - politics in Poland are either a taboo subject or restricted entirely to the Internet - and we all know how debating on the Internet works. I can honestly tell you that no camp currently registered for voting into the Sejm (the Senate 2.0) is worth voting for. The two major parties, PO (centrist/right) and PiS (right/national) are so deep in shitslinging between them that they lost focus on running the country, which breeds tons of discontent and lots of potential for corruption, both internal and external - they were both caught in the act, too. The alternative parties aren't much better: SLD (left/social) are basically repurposed commies from the last system and notorious for their mob connections, Ruch Palikota (liberal) is led by a huge idiot who changes his views like a goddamn flag, and UPR (left social/right economy) is helmed by a guy who is first to rip off "working" solutions from other countries with no regard for both current possibilities or needs of Poland.

This situation is perfect for PR however, since voting usually is not between "the best candidates" but "the least evil", so it just takes the right amount of spin to completely ruin a party's chances.

But it starts to show. Voter participation is dropping with each term - which in the short term is very bad since it leads to fringe voting, but in the long run demonstrates that we're starting to get tired of this shit.

It crossed my mind to post this anonymously to be honest, since Polish politics are a matter of very heated (and very vulgar) debate on the Polish-speaking Internet, but, ah well.

Comment: What assholes! (Score 1, Insightful) 153

by Xtense (#40819397) Attached to: RIAA Admits SOPA Wouldn't Have Stopped Piracy

So we knew RIAA were assholes, but up until now i always thought they were just deluded idiots who bought research that supported their imagination. After seeing the percentage slide from that ITWorld article, I'm still brimming with viking rage.

Assholes, every one of them - they just lost my one last excuse to at least feel a tinge of sympathy for them. Sympathy for their illness, mind, but sympathy nonetheless.

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