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Comment: You lost me at "depressed hipster" (Score 5, Insightful) 236

by branewalker (#42243933) Attached to: Mark Shuttleworth Answers Your Questions
I think it's fine to be proud of your own accomplishments. I don't think it's fine to call your detractors "depressed hipsters" when that is precisely what they are not. I didn't like Unity before it was cool, because I've never liked it, and it's still not.

I think it's disingenuous at best to say "Unity is by far the most widely used shell on Ubuntu, despite the depressed-hipster "can't live with unity" meme." when it is the default shell for Ubuntu. Most people don't change defaults, even if they are bad. See: Internet Explorer.

I also think it displays a complete lack of understanding of FOSS to say, "Well, I feel the same way about this as I do about McCarthyism. The people who rant about proprietary software are basically insecure about their own beliefs, and it's that fear that makes them so nastily critical. If your way of seeing the world IS genuinely more productive, effective, efficient, insightful and usable, then you should be confident that you will win in the long term, and folk who dabble in a different way of working will come to realize that you're right eventually."

Really, Mark? Here's where you're wrong: the ideology is one of control and user rights. If you're leading and you say, "this method is productive, effective, efficient, (insightful? What does it mean for a method of creating software to *itself* have insight?), and usable," but fails to recognize basic user rights, and your detractors say, "yes, but it fails to recognize basic user rights" then you're talking past them, and telling them their rights don't matter in the face of what..."progress?"

When you've got a method that puts users first, or at the very least doesn't bundle advertising spyware and beta-level UI as defaults, piggybacking on the success of what used to be the friendliest flavor of Linux, then talk about productive and efficient. Because until you're moving in the right direction, how fast and efficiently you're moving doesn't matter.

Comment: The College Station Story (Score 2, Insightful) 976

by branewalker (#31827076) Attached to: Red-Light Camera Ticket Revenue and Short Yellows

College Station, TX has a long and storied history with these things, and we recently voted them out of our city on referendum.

First, our Chief of Police was let go for one "bad review" after 20 distinguished years on the force when he, as a citizen of College Station, not even in official capacity, opposed red light cameras. The reason he did so was that other city officials were proposing shortening yellow light times to raise revenues.

I got a ticket at a light one night. The speed limit as marked was 40mph, but just before the intersection (about a block) it changes to 30 mph. As I slowed, the light turns yellow, but judging from my initial speed, I believe I can make it just fine. It changes red just before my front bumper passes the line marking the intersection. The yellow light time was based on the 30mph posted speed limit at the intersection, but not the 40mph speed limit where the decision zone is located. This is legal, apparently. Also, the light is set for the shortest legal yellow duration, despite recommendations of at least a half second longer by many safety organizations, including one recommendation based on a study from Texas A&M University, located just blocks away.

So we got a petition to get the ordinance that allows red light cams on a referendum vote. There was a large counter-push by some organization calling themselves "College Station Residents for Red Light Safety" or some such that was funded by the company that installed and maintained the cameras, which as you might guess, isn't local at all.

Even after a decisive vote, the group tried to sue to have the vote overturned on a technicality, but the suit was thrown out. Those things die hard.

Anyway, a couple of notes:

1. Sometimes the people who are retrieving the evidence (i.e. pictures) from the cameras aren't government officers. This can be improper handling of evidence, and can get your ticket thrown out.

2. What about rental cars, or friends driving your vehicle? This tickets the car, not the driver. My mom got a red light camera ticket in a rental car once. The rental car company got the ticket, paid it, and charged her credit card. Nothing she could do about it. How is that due process?

Comment: Re:Lawyer? (Score 1) 554

by branewalker (#31814704) Attached to: Comcast Disables VCR Scheduling In New Guide

Libertardians obviously hate it when they're presented with evidence that the invisible market fairy doesn't fix everything [google.com].

Interesting that I call myself a libertarian and believe in market regulation. Libertarian ideals are about non-agression, and supressing tyranny wherever it appears, whether in the public or private sector. It's not about lasseiz-faire, it's about keeping crooks from ripping you off, whether in the grocery store, the drug store, the bank, or the tech sector.

The invisible hand works if there is a large amount of information present to both buyers and sellers. This is rarely the case in modern markets, especially the technology services market. The invisible hand fails when that information is withheld through lies, deceit and cover-ups (as is often the case in modern technology markets). It also fails when there is no competition in a particular market. And markets are much smaller than we traditionally think of them. That said, what we need are fewer, better regulations, not more stupid regulations.

I'd like to see some intelligent consumer protections passed to prevent this kind of thing. It would basically be a freedom of interoperability law, covering everything from unlocking cell phones to not removing certain features of a product through software means (obviously hardware revisions or new software versions would have exemptions where they were not sufficiently tied to the basic functionality of the device). Might help with things like this and the PS3 OtherOS debacle.

The libertarian view is that the government's job is to keep order by preventing the tyranny of one individual (or company) over another. Anything beyond that is too much interference, but we're not anarchists, and we're most certainly not for the government selling out our rights to big corporations right and left.

Comment: Re:What? (Score 2, Interesting) 999

by branewalker (#31462954) Attached to: Texas Approves Conservative Curriculum
First, why is this insightful, and not flamebait? Second, look at these people you hold in high regard: Socialism is increasingly the norm there. The point that these text books wish to make is that America wasn't founded on socialist ideals, it was founded on liberal (and I mean classical liberal, i.e. what we might call libertarian) ideals and high degrees of freedom with limited government intervention. I'm not a capitalist. I'm not exactly a typical conservative, either. In fact, I'd really say that this is what we get for NOT implementing the voucher plan, (see? That sword cuts both ways) and for continuing the hilariously inept system that is state-run schooling.

Comment: Re:Never build a house on another man's land... (Score 2) 265

by branewalker (#31314806) Attached to: 8-Year Fan-Made Game Project Shut Down By Activision
This is the exact wrong kind of thinking. Yes, Vivendi came up with the idea for King's Quest, and deserves some economic control over the fruits of their labor. They do not, however, own perpetual rights to the culture that such ideas create. And, if those ideas spawn further creativity in the culture at large, GREAT. It is a travesty that we give corporations the right to disallow such spontaneous cultural fruition of their artwork (individuals, it might be noted, though they have the right to do the same, are rarely observed to exercise it) Furthermore, Vivendi, those in control of the original IP (to use a convenient, if somewhat misleading term) ought to be able to allow good-faith usage of their trademarks in perpetuity, notwithstanding the later acquisition of ADDITIONAL permission to use those trademarks and copyrights by a third party. In other words, here's how it ought to work: 1. Creator creates work. Has exclusive right to monetize and reproduce for reasonable period of time. 2. Creator can grant use of trademarks and copyrights to third parties. 3. Third parties can never disallow creator from (2), or nullify any previous agreement in regards to those rights. 4. Fair use ought to cover remix, especially when (1) results in a cultural phenomenon (usually indicative of the creator tapping into something that is not wholly his own, and certainly producing culture that is largely the property of the audience of that work. (4) is a sort of idea about what it mean to be in the Public Domain. Artistic works reach this point significantly before they do so legally. Somewhere about 12 to 17 years seems about right, from personal observation, though certain things hit that point sooner, and many never really make it to cultural significance. The irony, of course, is that the more profitable works are the ones that would be remixed and claimed by popular culture sooner.

Comment: Completely off-base (Score 1) 629

by branewalker (#31270152) Attached to: Beliefs Conform To Cultural Identities
Talk about confirmation bias. The study only "proves" confirmation bias to those looking for it. The irony! Look again. See that word "values" there? That's important, because it has meaning that goes beyond "belief" or "religion." It means "what people hold dear." A little example. Let's say you've been informed that your significant other has a life-threatening illness. Her (or his) chance of survival is 2%. Terrible, right? Now, let's tell you about the new experimental treatment, and its pros and cons. Now, let me tell this to your worst enemy. How do you think he's going to react? Back to climate science. Similarly, that 2% is the same 2% dissent we've got in climate science (which may be underestimated by its proponents, but we'll let it stand). For those whose lives and livelihoods depend upon the climate staying right where it is, they're gonna talk about that 2% like it's nothing. And for those whose lives and livelihoods would be ruined if they had to change and accommodate the long run (a lot of big businesses on the quarterly-profit-increase treadmill) they are going to talk up that 2% dissenting opinion. And really, since when did truth belong to the majority? That is merely the realm of popularity. When the majority is caught with their pants down fixing statistics to drum up more evidence, and using sources that may be flawed (NASA climate data?) that 2% begins to look less crazy. I dunno, this isn't really news.

Comment: Re:It Hurts (Score 1) 320

by branewalker (#30301744) Attached to: The Voynich Manuscript May Have Been Decoded
So, just because she doesn't have credentials means that she is an idiot? If that were the case, we would have no universities, because where were the people with PhD's to teach the others? Discoveries come from smart people. Some smart people have pursued formal education in their areas of expertise. Others have simply used their brains to figure out hard problems. No PhD required. Heck, if this were a high school student, I'd be inclined to let my interest be piqued. What is so wrong with giving this woman's ideas a chance, despite her lack of specialization?

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