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Comment Have We Lost the War to Quid Pro Quo Complacency? (Score 3) 345 345

Time and time again I see news articles that seem to herald the idea that users are willing to sacrifice something like privacy for the use of software. Take Facebook for an example. You get a robust and snappy storage and website for communication at the cost of control over your life and privacy. And as I try to explain to people the tradeoffs most of them seem to be complacent. Even I myself use GMail, there's just no better mail service. Even if there were, I'd have to run the server from my home to be sure that I'm in control in it and it's truly free (by your definition). So given that much of the populace isn't even prepared technologically to harness truly free software, don't you think they have slowly accepted the trade offs and that the pros of your arguments -- though sound -- are only possibly realized by those skilled enough to edit source code or host their own mail server from their home?

Comment Companies Selling Actually Free Software? (Score 5, Interesting) 345 345

I found your piece on selling free software to be pretty logical on paper. However, has it ever worked in the wild? Can you name companies or revenues that currently operate on this idea (and I'm not talking about services or support of the software)? I simply can't come up with a widely used monetized piece of software licensed under the GNU GPL whereby the original software was sold at a single price and shipped with the source code -- free for the original purchaser to distribute by the license's clauses. Can you list any revenue generation from that? I must admit I'm not exactly enamored with paying for free software (as in your definition of free) before it's written yet I cannot think of any other way this would fairly compensate the developer.

Comment Re: Looking more and more likely all the time... (Score 2) 502 502

> Because they predict things up to the level of accuracy that we can currently measure, within the very limited energy and size domains we have access to. That's all there is to it.

Fixed that for you.

When you can predict particle behavior inside a black hole with planck-length precision, or you can model gravity at the galactic scale without relying on unobserved "dark matter", I might be as confident as you that our current understanding is rock solid.

Comment Re: Looking more and more likely all the time... (Score 2) 502 502

> Modern physics is never incorrect.

And you, sir, have just turned science into religion.

The whole reason science is superior to religion is that it openly admits that it may be incorrect, and allows for itself to be corrected. It is, as you correctly outline, an iterative process that approaches truth over time. But part of that process is accepting that any truth may be overturned by new evidence. And while Einstein didn't "disprove" Newton, he did show flaws in the theory which meant that it was, in a very small way, wrong. And that's fine. Claiming it was "extended" and not "wrong" is playing semantics and makes you sound like a religious apologist.

The more comfortable we are with being wrong, and the process of refinement, the better scientists we are. The more we claim that some aspect of science is "never incorrect", the more dogmatic we are and the science suffers.

The predictions of modern physics are phenomenally accurate in many domains. But we haven't run tests in nearly enough domains to claim perfection yet. And we've no need to be defensive about it. Science is the only way to the next truth, and that's good enough for me.

Comment Re:Google It (Score 1) 189 189

Damn, that's a nice program. Kudos to Brother.

I wish I could find something on their website that states what they actually do with the returned toner cartridges. All I could find is this:

We will evaluate the opportunities to recycle, reuse, reduce, refuse and reform resources throughout the life cycle of our products.

My emphasis. This is not a commitment to recycle. It's feel-good corporate-speak.

Do they actually dismantle and recycle them? Do they refurbish them, or sell them to a refurbisher? Or do they just dispose of them so that they stay out of the after-market?

I'm sorry to be cynical. Brother may very well be acting as a good corporate citizen. But when I don't see explicit mention of their actions, I start to wonder what they are.

I suspect there are two problems for them in being too clear. First, I suspect they can't guarantee to reuse every cartridge - some of them will be damaged or contaminated, I imagine; second, they won't want to validate third party cartridge refills by admitting they actually do refills themselves! I recycle my Lexmark cartridges by mailing them back (with a prepaid shipping label they include with every new cartridge); my guess is they will refill and reset perfect-condition cartridges, recondition damaged or older ones, and recover the raw materials from unusable ones, but they won't want to be too open about the details. The "new" cartridges aren't exactly cheap, admitting they're sometimes actually refills would probably hurt sales.

Comment Re:Trial and error (Score 1) 4 4

Mark Russinovich experimented a fair bit with this under Windows XP - there at least, you could actually kill off smss.exe and still have a working system; really, the only one you need to leave in place is csrss.exe, since that provides the userspace parts of the Win32 API, and without Win32 you can't run any "normal" Windows programs at all. Of course, you also lack important things like networking, making this rather academic - and you can't reboot any more either, since you've now killed off the process which handles that!

Comment Re:Free Speech (Score 2) 180 180

If you run a messenger service, you aren't entitled to decide that select groups can't use your service. You can't decide that you will monitor the messages, and only deliver those messages that you approve of. You don't get to decide that you will deliver partisan messages that favor your position, and just lose messages that support the other side.

As an email provider/carrier/whatever, Google has a responsibility to pass the messages on, unless and until they actually violate some law.

How about if your phone company listens in to your conversations, and cuts you off when they disapprove of your conversation?

Now - you can twist a pair of panties into any kind of a wad you like, but you cannot twist morality and ethics enough to justify censorship of private communications. Nor can you justify political communications. Can't even justify censorship of business communications, until those communications violate a valid law.

Morally and ethically, you have a point - but legally, no. Telephone companies in the US have specific laws regulating what they can and can't do - but if Google decided that from now on, any email containing the word "viagra" would get blocked from Gmail, that's up to them. Probably not a useful choice (spammers already use workarounds like "\/iagra" anyway, and the occasional legitimate email would get caught) but it is theirs to make. Indeed, this very site has a few rules to reduce spam and misuse - so you can't post very long words without getting random whitespace added (to combat the old "page widening troll"), you can't post more than a certain number of messages in one period of time - all rules they are perfectly entitled to adopt and enforce, since it's their own site/service.

Someone posted here earlier that the domain looks quite "spammy" on some of the heuristics Facebook and co probably use internally: it wouldn't exactly be the first time legitimate content got caught by a spam filter. More likely than a conspiracy theory about Twitter and Facebook being so determined to stifle criticism of TPP. As of right now, stopfasttrack.com is not listed in Spamhaus's database; probably someone got over-enthusiastic promoting it, and some of those messages got reported as spam. Nothing new there, either.

Comment Re:More importantly (Score 1) 8 8

My office is similar in this respect - the occupant of the next desk seems to think of heatstroke as a good thing. Fortunately, I work from home most of the time so don't need to sweat it out, but it can be pretty uncomfortable at times. No air-conditioning, this being the UK, but I do tend to open the office windows whenever she's out of the room...

Comment Baidu Team's Apology Appended to Official Notice (Score 3, Insightful) 94 94

From the official announcement found in the NYT article (full of details we mostly already know) there comes an update with the team's response:

Message from the team in question:

Dear ILSVRC community,

Recently the ILSVRC organizers contacted the Heterogeneous Computing team to inform us that we exceeded the allowable number of weekly submissions to the ImageNet servers (~ 200 submissions during the lifespan of our project).

We apologize for this mistake and are continuing to review the results. We have added a note to our research paper, Deep Image: Scaling up Image Recognition, and will continue to provide relevant updates as we learn more.

We are staunch supporters of fairness and transparency in the ImageNet Challenge and are committed to the integrity of the scientific process.

Ren Wu – Baidu Heterogeneous Computing Team

So, while they deserve the year ban, the apology is nice. It's a shame we can never know what results a fair competition could have yielded ... and an even bigger shame that the media misreported Baidu as overpowering Google. I suppose the damage is done and the ILSVRC has made the right choice.

Perhaps I'm misunderstanding the classification problem but why isn't this run like most other classification problems (like Netflix and many other data challenges) where you get ~80% for training and the remaining 20% are held back for the final testing and scoring? Is the tagged data set too small to do this? Seems like wikimedia would contain a wealth of ripe public domain images for this purpose ...

Comment Re:Soon (Score 1) 138 138

How would an ISP block them, however? The only mechanism I know about would be DNS blocking, whenthe DNS server is supplied by the ISP.. Is there some new British trick where pages of certain sites could be selectively blocked? If so, how long before "politically sensitive" human rights pages would be blocked, or whistle blower pages?

CleanFeed, built by British Telecom to block access to child abuse imagery, sold to other ISPs, then inevitably abused as a blunt instrument to enforce copyrights. It's a two-stage filtering system: a list of IP addresses gets loaded into the ISP core routers, which diverts all access to those addresses through a proxy server; that server checks against a (secret!) list of prohibited URLs and lets the rest through. It has already blocked part of Wikipedia by mistake or misjudgement, and the government has already announced plans to filter "extremist" websites too.

TalkTalk, another of the named ISPs, bought a more elaborate setup from the People's Republic of China for millions of pounds, and push their "adult" content censorship system on all customers who don't specifically opt out. It's been a big political issue lately, with the current government wanting to force all ISPs down that route so you'd have to ask your ISP specifically to stop filtering your connection.

Comment Re:You're Talking About a Different Scale (Score 5, Insightful) 276 276

Frankly put, I'm unaware of "American organized political trolling" that rivals this.

Americans are quick to believe the Official Narrative, no matter how absurd. Mass media is the professional 'troll' that gets people to fight each here.

Again, you're conflating two things that are significant enough that I don't see a simple one-to-one comparison here.

The clear difference here is that the trolls in the article are a nebulous entity whereas the media trolls are not. I know to laugh at Glenn Beck and Katie Couric. I know who they are. I recognize their blubbering stupid talking heads. They're a trainwreck of lies and half truths. On the other hand, you can't stop google from returning search results that confirm what you're looking for. When it's a "trending hastag" on Twitter, you can't figure out if it's legit or not. How do I know that podonski432 on Twitter is the same individual on Youtube named ashirefort posting videos of an explosion is the same person retweeting podonski432 and adding ashirefort's video to their tweet?

Mass media doesn't employ subterfuge and I sure as hell can stop reading the New York Post & Washington Times & CNSNews & Huffington Post and all that other drivel. I can't, however, identify easily that this account on Twitter is just the new troll account that tricked me last time.

You do know that it's news if the New York Times is caught lying or spreading known falsities, right? I watched Jon Stewart hold a "reporters" feet to the WMD fire on one of his recent episodes. There's no self-policing mechanism like that among trolls.

Comment You're Talking About a Different Scale (Score 5, Insightful) 276 276

It's just about time to drag the American organized political trolling on sites like reddit, twitter, and tumblr into the open too, right?

Well, astroturfing is no new tactic but ... I think what this article deals with is scale. 400 clearly skilled (bilingual at the least) individuals running multiple catfish personalities online day in and day out ... the whole thing on a budget of $400k a month? That level and size is probably unparalleled by ... say, Digg's conservative idiots.

You have one entity orchestrating the 12 hours a day work of 400 individuals on topics that are pro-Russian and tangentially pro-Russian. They are sophisticated enough to "hit play" at a certain time to unfold a natural disaster or assassination or anything to destabilize/confuse a region and they do so over many accounts on multiple social media platforms. They create video, screenshots, websites, etc. And they use proxies and sufficiently sophisticated means to appear to be disjoint at first glance.

They appear to have run an exercise on a rubber plant explosion in Louisiana for no other discernible purpose than to test out their new super powers or demonstrate their abilities to their customers/leaders.

Frankly put, I'm unaware of "American organized political trolling" that rivals this. This is paid. This is tightly controlled. This is prepared. This is unified. American organized political trolling is just a run-of-the-mill monkey shitfight with the occasional Koch Bros/Soros website (usually easily sourceable) thrown in.

Now if you can point me to a faked ISIS attack on American soil right before an election that was done by some political group stateside, I'd be interested to hear about it.

"Ignorance is the soil in which belief in miracles grows." -- Robert G. Ingersoll

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