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Comment give him a primer on what can and cannot be done (Score 1) 86

A big problem with these guys, especially if they have to evaluate a project, is that they are embarrassingly ignorant about what technology cannot do. They're liable to ask for the impossible, and think they asked for something trivial. Well, if you can solve this problem with 50 coordinates, then 100 coordinates should only take twice as long! Depends on the problem. If it is Traveling Salesperson, the compute time roughly doubles for every 1 additional coordinate, not for a doubling of the number of coordinates. A list of limits would be helpful.

Comment Re: 'There's no substitute for cubic inches' (Score 1) 345

However, airlines have colluded to gouge passengers for convenience. Passengers are charged more, often much more, for the direct flight. The direct flight has the inherent advantage of the economy of carrying a passenger fewer miles and making fewer stops. Savings from other considerations, such as filling a plane to capacity, must therefore be greater to overcome that. Yet airlines game passengers, seeking to charge more for less. Air fares are notoriously fickle.

One time I was trying to get a trip from D.C. to DFW. The cheapest flight was about $250, and included a stop in Atlanta. The direct flights started around $800. But I found a flight that started in Philly and made its one stop in D.C. on the way to DFW, for about $250. I thought about buying it, and just boarding in D.C. But I didn't as I was sure there was some catch, Yes, indeed. The airline will cancel the rest of your flight if you are not on the first leg. Why would they do that? To stop passengers from dodging their monopolistic convenience levies, of course. I would have been screwed out of my flight, and I think the price of the ticket had I tried it. No refunds for missed flights, you know.

It's a good thing their monopoly is limited. Though D.C. to DFW is about 22 hours by car, vs. 4 hours for a direct flight, if the airlines are obnoxious enough, I'd rather take the car. Instead, I've always been able to find a cheap one stop flight. 12 to 14 hours is about the longest car trip I find practical, and that only barely. Any longer than that and you should really stop somewhere for a night of rest. I very rarely take a plane when the destination is only 4 to 6 hours away by car. With it taking an hour to get to and from the airports at either end, plus another hour to get through security, and the flight itself still takes an hour, the time saved by flying isn't much on such a short trip.

Comment Re:Actually, RIAA isn't far off base (Score 1) 109

I have no right to insist on being able to buy things in a manner that suits my needs best

We do have that right. If a seller accepts cash only, and you wish to pay by credit card, you absolutely can take your business elsewhere or refuse to buy.

I would pay a few hundred bucks a month for full, unfettered, access like that.

The trouble is that their business model of selling copies never did work that well, and now that copies are incredibly easy to make, doesn't work at all. It's only inertia, pity for those poor starving artists, and respect for the law that keeps their impossible business model on life support. You propose a different business model that I think isn't enough of a change. Identifications embedded in files can always be changed or stripped. What we really need is some kind of crowdfunding method. Create the art, receive the funds that have already been promised or collected, and from then on the art is freely available. The public library will be able to have a digital copy immediately, which any number of patrons can copy, no more long bureaucratic delays.

Comment society of fear (Score 1) 194

That's for sure! And the fear is strangely selective. I have a difficult time understanding a person who is both a hygiene fanatic and a slob. Out of fear, she insists on ridiculous hygiene measures such as washing a bar of soap with liquid soap after it's been dropped on the floor of the shower stall, but she routinely leaves dirty dishes all over the house.

It's similar with driving. Insists on doing the driving herself because she doesn't trust anyone else to do it, then gets stressed out and starts cutting other drivers off, speeding, tailgating, and lane hopping. She hates the middle lane, feels trapped when cars are on both sides, so she hops from right lane to left and back to the right, making double lane changes if on a 6 lane street. If she sees road construction or a traffic jam ahead, she instantly takes the next turn, and never mind whether that takes her further from her destination.

She's also afraid of crime. Has 2 deadbolts on each door. I pointed out that this could be dangerous if there is a fire and she needs to get out quick, doesn't have time to fumble about hunting for keys and keyholes. But she has not made any changes there, remains much more afraid of criminals than fires.

Comment Re:Avoid companies that are there just to IPO (Score 1) 129

Little ability to invest or plan for in the long term Is one of the biggest failures of capitalism. An example is the transcontinental railroad. That railroad was worth building, and unlike a lot of ventures, it could hardly be more obvious that it would be a huge boost to the economy and the nation, yet even with that the market could not raise the money necessary to finance the building of it. By the 1860s, the transcontinental was shifting from a dream to concrete plans, the technologies needed for steam powered railroading were proven, with 30 plus years of experience and refinements and a vibrant and expanding railroad network in the eastern US demonstrating daily its usefulness and value. Yet the market couldn't raise the money needed to build the transcontinental. The government had already scouted potential routes at public expense, but the market still couldn't do it. The government then helped out with a massive sweetening of the pot by loaning the railroads land along their routes, if only they would build them. (Prior to the Civil War, the government also hindered the effort thanks to factional fighting over where the route would be.) That was finally enough to get the railroads started. But they still resorted to all kinds of blind optimism, and outright cheating and financial trickery to disguise the true costs of the endeavor, lying even to themselves. The government also hugely underestimated the cost. Still, the railroad was worth it.

Another massive infrastructure project totally worth doing was the Panama Canal, and once again, capitalism was not up to the job. Government had to pony up and guide the entire effort, with capitalistic businesses serving as mere contractors. Somehow no land transport link has ever connected North and South America, a failure of political systems as well as capitalism. Today, would it be worthwhile to put a railroad tunnel under the Bering Strait? Yes, with a few caveats. But it's not happening, neither capitalism nor democratic government is up to the task.

Space exploration is another area that capitalism has, so far, been unable to do. The idea of a corporation, perhaps Apple or Microsoft or Exxon, ever landing on the moon or sending a probe to another planet, is improbable despite their wealth and size. A few corporations such as Scaled Composites are trying, but so far none have had more than limited success.

And finally, doing something about a problem has been another weak point. What are we doing about Climate Change? Business has largely washed its hands of the matter. That's someone else's problem. Some businesses have even been crazy enough to run a propaganda campaign to deny that there is a problem.

Comment Re:Why do we need H.265? (Score 1) 184

Never ceases to amaze me how much influence ideology has on technical matters. Some people behave as if ownership and proprietary licensing sanctifies a product. They really believe that the profit motive guarantees that quality is better and trustiness is higher. They feel comforted when there is a big organization backing the product. And not just any organization, but a for profit corporation that appears to hold the same values as they do. Non-profits are suspect. They wish to peddle their own products, grow their market, and increase market share and stock valuation, in a similar matter. That many customers might have different ideas is dismissed and ignored, or treated with suspicion and fear accompanied by shrill cries of theft, socialism, and treason against the American way. These feelings and motives trump mere technical merits as reason for choosing one product over another.

Unintentionally, MS has done much to disabuse people who hold such notions.

Comment Re:Why do we need H.265? (Score 5, Interesting) 184

For lossy still images, JPEG2000, the successor to JPEG, is not widely used. JPEG is good enough.

For lossless still images, PNG was created to provide a free and superior replacement for the proprietary GIF format. The only reason GIF hung on was that it could do simple animations. MNG and APNG provide animations for PNG. APNG appears to have beat out MNG, but neither was soon enough to push GIF into complete oblivion. Still, PNG has mostly supplanted GIF.

Despite being the oldest and by far the worst quality of the major lossy audio formats, MP3 is still king, though Ogg Vorbis has claimed some niches. For instance, Vorbis is a popular format for sounds for computer games. One of the big problems Vorbis suffered was purely political. Microsoft went to war against the format, in part because it didn't have DRM. They would have also killed mp3 if it wasn't so popular. MS managed to squash Vorbis in the US so that it is very hard to find a music player that supports the format. For some players, I installed Rockbox to get support for Vorbis. For another, I learned that the same device was sold in the US and Europe, just with different ROMs. Flash the US device with the European ROM (which involved tricking the ROM installation program by switching ROM files after it did its check and before it did the install) and just like that the US device could play Vorbis. How MS bullied or bribed the manufacturer to omit Vorbis from the US ROM I don't know.

So, yeah, H 265 could easily fail to gain widespread adoption if the licensing terms are too onerous and greedy, no matter how much better it is compared to H.264. H.262 (MPEG-2) is still kicking around, as it's the format used for DVD video.

Comment Re:This is outrageous (Score 1) 274

Star Trek: Renegades appears to be exactly that, a crowdfunded TV series. It's nowhere close to 22 episodes, may not ever reach that milestone, but it appears to be a fantastic success for a first try. In any case, advertising was the mainstay of TV revenues, before the advent of cable in the 1980s.

Comment Re:Confused (Score 1) 274

I am in the US. Thomas Jefferson seriously doubted whether copyright was a good idea. He accepted it with reservations, and only for lack of or time to work out better ways to promote progress. "He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me."

Civil disobedience? I consider that a civic duty, actually. It is a powerful way to overturn bad laws. It worked for MLK, though he did spend some time in jail. If more people stood up for their rights, didn't accept the oppression and theft that many of powerful are always trying to impose through corruption, bribery, and general weakening of our social fabric, jail would be an empty threat. Aaron Swartz was protesting the use of copyright to steal and lock away research paid for by the public, and got caught up in another problem, the use of extreme law enforcement for purposes of extracting revenue from victims and powering the prison industrial complex, and scoring points for being tough on crime. Seems the pendulum is finally swinging back from "3 strikes" laws and mandatory minimum sentences, but it wasn't soon enough to save him. People are revolting against such things as these red light cameras. We were sold a bill of goods about their supposed safety benefits, but all along the real reason for the cameras was revenue. Don't get me wrong, red light cameras can make driving safer, if used responsibly. The problem is that it's too tempting for local authorities and their private camera operation contractors to cheat, by for instance shortening the yellow light even though that reduces safety to less than if no camera was present at all, to extract more revenue.

Get on that, you say? Indeed. I have thought about what would be needed. An important piece is proof of authorship, to make plagiarism difficult if not impossible. Free digital notaries could do that. Now, what would it take to set up a bunch of web sites to do digital notarizing? Shouldn't be too hard, just a technical matter, much like setting up any other web site such as Wikipedia, except this has to keep up with encryption research. I'd like to go even further and make digital signing more automatic. However, that is subject to maintaining privacy. Anyway, supposing we have systems for digitally notarizing works of art and science. Then we have the means to identify the correct people deserving of compensation. Any time money enters the picture, fraudsters jump in, seeking any and every way to cheat the system.

One patronage system we've had in place for years is higher education. It has however taken a beating in recent years, thanks to all this anti-intellectualism and budget cutting. Professors are expected to publish, can't just teach class, that's only half of what they're compensated for, research is the other half. But if higher education is being drowned in a bathtub, starved of cash by anti-government ideologues, it could get to the point where the system breaks down. Been heading that way in recent years.

Comment Re:This is outrageous (Score 1) 274

It's called a boycott. We don't want to live like that, but it may be worth it for a while, to break a monopoly.

There are other options. We, the people, could rise up and demand that these laws be changed. That option is not likely while an easier option exists: we'll just ignore you and copy and share what we want. You can't stop it. You can cry about reality not working the way you want, giving only you and fellow artists and Big Media owners the ability to change a thing from not scarce to scarce and back at the toggle of a switch. You can wail and gnash your teeth about how artists will all starve to death if we the people won't play along and buy those ridiculous and horrendously wasteful physical packagings your peers seem to think must be forced upon the public even as we become more and more unwilling to countenance the waste. Or you could get busy building a business model that does work. Crowdfunding, patronage, endorsements, advertising, bundling with hardware are among those other business models.

Comment Re:Confused (Score 3, Insightful) 274

I disagree that copying is antisocial. Copying is a natural right, and has a long history. It is only our current customs that push the idea that copying is harmful, and attempt to regulate it and restrict it by fiat. I agree that artists deserve some kind of compensation. Artists can be compensated in other ways. It is not necessary to try to clamp down on all copying for purposes of imposing a toll that ideally is used, in part, to pay artists. It's actually bad to restrict copying. Might as well argue that children should not receive the fruits of knowledge that our civilizations have produced over the millennia, without paying for the "privilege". Just because something is valuable doesn't mean it should be hoarded, and denied to the poor, most especially when the thing in question is not scarce, To allow, and worse, aid a few privileged, moralizing, greedy leeches to perpetuate a wholly artificial imposition of scarcity for what they claim is the good of artists and us all, but which claim is simply not true, is evil.

As to the other ways to compensate artists, there is patronage. Patronage has worked for centuries, and now, with modern technology we can do it so much better. We can crowdfund, which was impractical until very recently.

Comment Re:What were they thinking? (Score 5, Insightful) 177

There's good reason to be skeptical of rules. Too often, rules are not honest. The usual tactic is to not give any explanation. When that won't fly, safety is the #1 excuse for a rule. But so often, it turns out that someone profits from a rule, and that is the real reason for it. Even when there are genuine safety concerns, there is often also a profit motive. That seems highly likely with this particular Disney rule. Why couldn't people use electronic devices or carry nail clippers on planes? Why did so many cities try red light cameras? Why can't people bring their own food and drink to the movie theaters? Why can't we play movies on our computers' DVD drives?

Yeah. Don't blindly trust The Rules.

Comment Re:not interested...unless. (Score 1, Insightful) 281

To say nothing of all the other crap they do, MS is still pushing DRM. Windows 10 is no change of direction on that point. If they want my business, they must rip out all the DRM. No more activation keys like they started in Windows 95, no more phoning home like they started in XP, and definitely no more policing of 3rd party media like they tried in Vista. No more Windows Genuine Advantage, OOXML and J++ and ActiveX and other deliberate attempts to sabotage standards, and file format and other lock ins. No more legal debacles like the stunt they tried with SCO.

Let MS admit they were wrong to go along with the sophistry of Big Media concerning piracy, and start behaving like a tech leader again. They tell Big Media how to handle tech, not the other way around. What a weak move that was, following those greedy fools of Big Media, and showing the tech savvy that they don't deserve any respect, don't have any sense of technology, which is supposed to be their core competence. RMS criticizes Torvalds for being just an engineer. That goes double for MS, in their efforts to be just an engineering company and agreeing to implement DRM. But they went further than that, really seemed to believe they could make DRM work for themselves, and when they at last got into politics, pushed for stronger intellectual property laws, not better ones. They're not even a decent engineering shop, they're little more than an abusive monopolist desperately clinging to a broken business model.

Comment Re:The mafia state (Score 1) 219

"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants." -- Thomas Jefferson

We would like to be perfectly safe, and not have to worry about being murdered for exposing corruption. But that ideal may be impossible. Instead, there will always be a need for patriots willing to risk everything. Oppressors must be constantly reminded that threats, even of death, cannot silence everyone. Journalists have to be willing to risk torture and death.

This particular oppressor and his lackeys were real stupid and cruel, to resort to such a spectacularly and gruesomely barbaric method of silencing a critic. Did they think the extremity of their punishment would cow everyone? Instead, it went viral and backfired on them big time. Or perhaps they were the kind of sick souls who wanted to see someone suffer horribly, who enjoy torture, and used this as an excuse. I hope they spend the rest of their lives in jail.

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