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

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) 184 184

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) 267 267

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) 267 267

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) 267 267

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) 267 267

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) 177 177

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) 281 281

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) 219 219

"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.

Comment aside from the HD, the same (Score 1) 558 558

AMD Phenom II X4 945, 8G RAM, Radeon HD 5450, with HP branding. It's a Pavilion Elite HPE 210F if I recall correctly. It's about 6 years old now. Only thing I have replaced is the hard drive, twice. Original drive was a WD Caviar Green, and it failed in just 9 months. Next hard drive was a WD Caviar Black, and it failed in 4 years. I've had enough of WD, and the current drive is a Toshiba. There's some funny BIOS problem connected with the hard drives. Occasionally, the computer fails to detect any drives at all and waits on "press F10 to enter setup". More often it detects the drive but fails to boot, and Linux will drop me to an initramfs prompt. Most of the time, it boots as it should. Maybe this intermittent BIOS problem could have led to the early demise of my hard drives?

Anyway, yeah, I see no need for more power. I've become more interested in the other direction, very low power computers. I don't think I want to downgrade all the way to a Raspberry PI, but laptops are a pretty good balance. Have had good luck with a Giada i53, a mini desktop based on a laptop platform. Takes 30W max, and that only when running a game that requires intense 3D accelerated graphics, which its Intel HD Graphics 4000 is actually able to handle, does a little better than the Radeon HD 5450. When just editing text, it takes only 10W. Maybe I'll go for the Giada i57b, or maybe not. Main problem with these Giadas is that they are basically laptops without screens, keyboards, or mice, at higher prices than actual laptops that do have all that.

Comment Re:Hey! I still *run* a P4 3.8GHz (Score 1) 77 77

Pshaw, I still have a 350MHz Pentium II desktop, and a 133 MHz Pentium MMX (Oooo!) laptop with the maximum 96M RAM it can have. Okay, I don't run them as my main boxes, but I do still use them occasionally. The laptop needs 30 seconds to bring up Firefox 3.5, Stellarium is unusably slow, taking 5 minutes to come up. You might think a 133 MHz processor should be able to do better than that, but actually MHz is much less important than capabilities and, at that level, RAM. Below 256M, every megabyte counts. For instance, the Pentium II has a Riva TNT, the very oldest Nvidia graphics card that the Nouveau driver supports, and it smokes a 1GHz Pentium III with Intel integrated graphics (845G if I remember right).

Wait... I still have a working Apple ][+ and Commodore 64 in the closet! At least, they worked the last time I booted them up. Which might have been a decade ago?

Comment Re:And the Firefox bloat continues to swell (Score 1) 91 91

Trimming the code bloat was one of the major reasons to fork Mozilla into Phoenix/Firebird/Firefox, Thunderbird, and Seamonkey back in the day. They decided a browser should not also be an email client, HTML editor, news client, and IRC chat client. Seamonkey kept all that butwas rebranded as an "Internet suite".

Comment failure on the social level (Score 1) 116 116

Forbidding portable media didn't work well in the days of the floppy disk, and doesn't work now. Much better to talk to people, make sure no one has a justifiable grievance against an immediate supervisor. If someone sees something to blow a whistle about, give them a way to do so that isn't so damaging and doesn't have a bunch of organization men conflating treason to the nation with refusal to look the other way when they lie and cheat. We should be grateful to whistleblowers, not treat them with suspicion.

The first line of defense is not to make enemies in the first place. That goes for other nations as well as insiders.

Comment Re:rack, not dryer (Score 1) 557 557

Humidity is a problem, but it still worked in New York City.. There are old pictures of full clothes lines between high rise tenements there. Those lines were also useful for transporting small goods, such as a cup of sugar for the neighbor, or food for the infirm to save themselves a lot of stair climbing.

Comment Re:Yes, but because (Score 1) 189 189

I don't think it's wrong to implement copyright. It does have a purpose: to enable artists to be properly compensated for their work

I appreciate what you're saying, but on this point I disagree. Yes, I think artists deserve compensation. But I think artists can be properly compensated through crowdfunding, patronage, and advertising, and that therefore copyright is unnecessary. On balance, I believe copyright does more harm than good, and therefore should be abolished. I realize it always hurts to lose something, particularly a means of income. It's partly a psychological problem. People cling to what they have and know, and resist loss. Some cling so hard they go into denial and insist they still have it when it has been lost for years.

Having said that, a form of copyright could still be viable. Piracy cannot be stopped. But what may still be possible is charging for performances to the public. Many restaurants do that when they play music for their customers. Such public activities are not invisible by their nature, so it is possible to track and regulate it. However, I would like to see this called something other than copyright. And I'm not convinced it's a good idea.

Crowdfunding is still in its infancy. It needs a lot of work, and I think the sooner we get busy on it, the better for everyone. I especially would rather not rely on private corporations to provide the forums and facilities for crowdfunding. But it's workable so long as there is competition. I hear that Kickstarter keeps a whopping 30% of the funds? Wouldn't 5% be more fair? And maybe they would lower their take if they had more competition. If ever any one corporation gets close to monopoly power in such a vital market, the government should step in, and if they don't because the regulators have been captured, the people must step up and demand action.

Organic chemistry is the chemistry of carbon compounds. Biochemistry is the study of carbon compounds that crawl. -- Mike Adams