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Comment: Re:The law makes no allowances for irony. (Score 1) 60

by hey! (#49159313) Attached to: Craig Brittain (Revenge Porn King) Sues For Use of Image

Copyright is not necessarily the only law which applies here. It is possible, for example, to have copyright on works you have no right to distribute. If I write a libelous story about you, I *own* that story, but I can't publish it because it is libelous -- unless I alter the story so you aren't obviously recognizable.

IANAL, but I suspect that what matters here is the subject's "expectation of privacy". Even if you got her permission to take her photo with the understanding it's for your *personal* use, she probably has a reasonable expectation that you won't post it on a public website. In that case after a breakup you would retain copyright and the right to use the image for your personal use (although really how pathetic is that?), but you don't suddenly gain the right to share it with the world if that's not the terms under which she agreed to let you take her picture.

Comment: The law makes no allowances for irony. (Score 2) 60

by hey! (#49158485) Attached to: Craig Brittain (Revenge Porn King) Sues For Use of Image

Nor should it.

So this guy has *exactly* the same privacy rights as any other public figure has, neither more nor less. These rights are fewer than those enjoyed by non-public figures, but they are not zero. He can't stop people from using his image and name, any more than Kim Kardashian can. While in a sense she owns her public persona, she doesn't own every image of her that is taken in public. In other words people can't use her image to sell things as if she endorsed them, but they can use and even sell the image itself.

If this guy owns the copyright to an image, he can reasonably file a DMCA takedown. If the image is taken in a situation in which a public figure would have a reasonable expectation of privacy (e.g. inside his house), then he can take other legal steps, even though allowing that to happen would be poetic justice. The law doesn't deal in poetic justice, and judges aren't allowed to stop enforcing the law just because it would be cool.

Comment: Re:We need hardware write-protect for firmware (Score 1) 216

by hey! (#49158449) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Does One Verify Hard Drive Firmware?

That's a bit like saying that having a portcullis in the castle gate doesn't help you if the enemy is already inside the walls, which is unquestionably true, but misses the point that having the portcullis makes it harder (although not impossible) for the enemy to do that.

I agree that a more secure way to update firmware, but we have to be realistic in that this would also tend to create new targets for malware writers (e.g. stealing signing keys).

I suspect what we really need is stuff that will occur *outside the box*, such as better vendor of firmware downloads and some kind of police agency tasked with discovering and investigating dodgy firmware. But of course the objection remains -- such an agency itself would be a potential source of problems.

Comment: Re:Hashes not useful (Score 1) 216

by hey! (#49158411) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Does One Verify Hard Drive Firmware?

Seagate is correct. Putting a hash on the website doesn't improve security at all because anyone who can change the download can also change the web page containing the hash.

While I agree just slapping a hashtag on a webpage doesn't necessarily improve security, it doesn't follow that it can't.

Security is a holistic property; it's a property of a system as a whole. An important part of that is detecting when you've been hacked and knowing in advance what you're going to do. There are many scenarios under which publishing the hash codes of downloads improves security, but that *always* depends on people doing certain things, many of which can be automated on the vendor end.

Comment: Going my own way (Score 1) 166

by fyngyrz (#49156963) Attached to: One Astronomer's Quest To Reinstate Pluto As a Planet

As far as I'm concerned, if it's orbiting a star, and it itself isn't another star, and it's got, or had, enough mass such that it pulled whatever it is made of into a spheroid, it's a planet. If it's orbiting another planet and the center of the orbit is within the other body, it's a moon, spheroid or not. If the center of the orbit is in space, they're both planets. If there isn't enough mass to pull the thing into a spheroid, and it's not orbiting a planet, then it is either an asteroid (primarily rocky) or a comet (primarily gassy/icy.) If it's pulled itself into a spheroid and is floating out away from any star, it's still a planet, but it is a rogue. We can have a moon orbiting another moon and so on, but that doesn't make the first one into a planet.

If an object is manufactured and not meant to navigate to arbitrary destinations under its own power, but only resides in orbit about something or sits in free space, if it can host humans, it is a space station. If it cannot host humans, and it's in orbit, it is a satellite. If it is in free space, it is a platform. If it can travel under its own power to arbitrary destinations, arbitrarily change orbits and so on, it is a spacecraft. Station keeping effectors do not count, and being able to carry humans doesn't make a difference.

If the object is, or ever was, host to a natural fusion reaction due to the usual culprits, it's a star. Live, dead or otherwise.

I could go on for quite a while, but most likely, no one cares anyway. :) The important thing is *I* know what to think when I learn about something "out there." And Pluto? Pluto is definitely a planet.

If someone convinces me that these ideas are inconsistent, I'll do my best to fix 'em so they aren't.

Comment: Re:Can someone explain this? (Score 4, Informative) 69

by hey! (#49156569) Attached to: Oracle Sues 5 Oregon Officials For 'Improper Influence'

What they're alleging is that political staffers interfered with the project to help the governor's election chances.

As much as I believe Oracle is the spawn of Satan, if the governor's aides and staffers did that Oracle would have a reasonable complaint. When you sign a system development contract you agree to deliver a system and the client agrees to pay you. If you someone induces your client not to accept a system that meets the criteria, that's what lawyers call a "tort". It's something you can justifiably sue over.

Likewise there are many ways political operatives could potentially sabotage a project, and that'd be actionable too. Any non-trivial development project is dependent upon the client acting in good faith. They have to act as if they want the system. It's extremely easy for a client to cause a project to fail, by raising an endless stream of trivial complaints or by dragging its feet in its responsibilities like acceptance testing or giving feedback. It'd be all to easy for well-placed political operatives to undermine the bureaucracy's willingness to cooperate.

That said, in *this* particular instance the suit sounds like business as usual for Oracle, in other words acting like bastards.

Comment: Re:Where the economic system breaks down (Score 1) 254

by hey! (#49155959) Attached to: 5 White Collar Jobs Robots Already Have Taken

Here's the thing about technology prognostication. Timing is everything. Take predicting tablets being a big market success. People were making tablets back in the early 90s and people were predicting that it would take off. But the timing was wrong. It's clear to anyone who saw 2001 that tablets would someday be a big deal, but it took more knowledge than most people have to understand the prerequisites that could make that vision come true (display technology, battery weight and volume, processor performance and consumption, memory density).

This caution applies to dystopian predictions as well. People have been predicting that automation would destroy the economy for hundreds of years by now. Instead automation has increased productivity and raised wages. So it seems sensible to dismiss future predictions of an automation apocalypse. Except we can't.

Reasoning from historical experience is for most people reasoning by vague analogy. But each moment in history has to be looked at on its own terms, because sometimes things have to be just right for a certain scenario to unfold. The devil is in the details. So the idea that automation is going to produce mass unemployment is not certain either way. We have to look at conditions in *this* moment of history and reason specifically. That's hard to do.

Comment: Re:just FYI (Score 1) 76

by hey! (#49155893) Attached to: Banned Weight-loss Drug Could Combat Liver Disease, Diabetes

Well, like Paracelsus said, the dose makes the poison. Or in this case the release mechanism.

Blood concentrations of drugs usually peak an hour or two after ingestion and then taper off depending on the mechanisms the body uses to either break the drug down or excrete it directly (when you're an old Geek, you begin to pick up a lot of this stuff). So it's entirely plausible that the same amount of drug which would be dangerous in an ordinary pill would be acceptably safe in a timed release formulation, particularly if it is quickly eliminated from the body. The concentration in the patients' tissues would never reach dangerous levels. You can think of it as a lower "instantaneous" dose.

Comment: Re:Corporation != People (Score 1) 372

by hey! (#49155827) Attached to: Verizon Posts Message In Morse Code To Mock FCC's Net Neutrality Ruling

Corporations are a peaceable assembly of board members and/or shareholders.

This is an interesting, but not quite valid argument. The reason is that corporations are *not* an assemblage of individuals. Associations are. The laws and privileges entailed in being a corporation are different. If associations, partnerships and corporations were the same thing, the rules would be the same. But thery're not. Stockholders aren't financially responsible for the debts of a corporation, nor are they legally responsible for the deeds of the corporation.

I hold stock in a number of companies. Were I a *partner* in the corporations I could walk onto any of the company's properties, because it's *my* property. If I own stock in Target I can't just have a shufti around the back room of the store; it's not my store. It belongs to the corporation.

Also as a stockholder in a number of corporations, when those corporations engage in political activity they are not exercising *my* rights. They don't represent me in any way, nor do I have veto power when I disagree with them. When the Sierra Club speaks out on environmental issues, you can presume they speak for me as a member, because they exist for that purpose, and I joined on that basis. When JP Morgan Chase buys a congressman, they are not speaking for me, even though I hold stock. I'd rather they don't. I bought JP Morgan stock many years ago as an investment. Insofar as they participate in politics they're usually working against my interests.

Comment: Re:White balance and contrast in camera. (Score 1) 353

by hey! (#49155729) Attached to: Is That Dress White and Gold Or Blue and Black?

I've sat right next to people who see the dress differently than me. It's *the same image* on *the same monitor* at *the same time*. So it's not a case of the monitor calibration or the camera white balance that creates the discrepancy, although obviously manipulating those things will change our individual perceptions of the dress. What's interesting here is the differences between people presented with an identical image.

Color doesn't exist in the external world. "Purple" isn't a wavelength of light, it's a kind of "additional data" tag which our brains add to parts of an image that allows us to extract more information from it. Consider the famous "Rubik's Cube" optical illusion where the same square looks either orange or brown based on whether contextual cues make us think it is in shadow or not. There's an illustration here.

The only difference between the Rubik's Cube illusion and The Dress That Broke The Internet is that practically *everyone* experiences the paradoxical sensations of the Rubik's Cube Illusion; in the case of the dress the paradox is in how sensations *differ between people*. The dress image is a kind of borderline case where our brains can "tag" the "pixels" of the image in one of two possible ways depending on what it thinks the context is. Different brains are trained by different experiences to expect different contexts. If we saw the dress being worn and in person, chances are with all that context there'd be less disagreement.

Comment: Argh (Score 1) 100

by fyngyrz (#49155701) Attached to: Google Reverses Stance, Allows Porn On Blogger After Backlash

Here is what is so frustrating about all this.

Consensual sex is good. Consensual sex is fine. Consensual sex is entertaining.

The "bad' things about consensual sex, mostly including distributing media recording it -- disease, "moral" backlash, reputation damage, difference from how the external objector thinks it should be performed, perceived "offense", blatant rationalizations about agency magically not being present for the most ridiculous, transparent and obviously invalid reasons -- all of this stuff comes from outside sex. They are not sex. All of these things are things a sane person needs to defend against in both the prophylactic and immediate senses. These factors are all pernicious to immediate attacks on normality and goodness -- on sex itself -- and as such, they can be dangerous as hell.

The *one* inherent, sex-centric risk that affects just a few of the many forms of sex is that of unwanted pregnancy. Because yes, that's actually part of those (again, few) aspects of sex. And, just like the external threats, it can be defended against, so it's not a good reason to not have sex even of that kind, and of course it never was a good reason to avoid the myriad types and expressions of sex that cannot result in pregnancy.

Into this environment come the bewildered. Google's corporate overlords, like most who have gained power, seek to impose their view of what's "ok" on everyone else. In the context of this step back from the brink, Google is still way, way above the depths in terms of the violence, coercion and repression the government, religions, various corporations and the general public have established, but we have been witness to the urge growing within the Google power structure. Of course it is wonderful to see it set back somewhat, but we would be extremely gullible if we thought this was certain to be the end of it. This is a very well-trodden path.

Into this environment come the masses (but I repeat myself.) Just a few days ago, an episode of The Walking Dead aired that had the Intertubes quite upset due to content.

Now, this particular work of fiction, you have to understand, has showcased, in graphic detail, human cannibalism; murder of many stripes; suicide; extreme torture; extreme bondage; non-consensual amputation; and of course "zombies" in glorious anatomical and decaying detail. Exploding heads, severed body parts, the thrusting of limbs inside the dead, painting one's self in zombie gore, the most generous splashing of body parts and fluids in every direction and every variety you could possibly imagine (unless you think they actually missed something, and in which case, if you let the producers know, I'd bet money it shows up within a few episodes.) In play have been tanks, explosives, booby traps, fire, bacterial assault, knives, guns, imprisonment, baseball bats, swords, fingernails, martial arts... None of this so much as raises an eyebrow with the viewing public, who think it's all delightful entertainment.

So good grief, what could the content possibly be that actually got the viewers weirded out enough to speak up and get feisty? Only this: Two gay fellows sharing a kiss. Not even a particularly passionate kiss, but more of a "wow, so glad you made it through that alive" kiss.

We -- the few truly sane, the only way to honestly characterize it -- watch this kind of governmental, corporate, religious and individual pathology from outside, and I have to tell all of you, any hope that human society will ever come to its senses is extinguished in a manner I can only liken to a tidal wave rolling over a single guttering candle.

There's nothing for it. Society is sick, sick, sick. And dangerous. You all be careful out there.

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