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Comment: Re:CLA (Score 1) 57

by ciascu (#47666509) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Corporate Open Source Policy?

Just to contrast with Copyright Assignment, which is also a popular approach, there can be a substantial body of improvement that the upstream developers are unlikely to even be notified about, never mind receive, because requiring Copyright Assigment leaves it dead in the water. This may seem like a bit of paper for a lone developer, but when an institution or external agreements are involved, it takes one person somewhere in the chain, who may not know or care, to say, "Why are we signing away ownership of months of funded work? They want additional protection, you say? Then, by definition, we must be losing it. Anyway, it's easier to veto and ignore upstream submission - this is not our problem, our project's fine."

Signing over to the FSF may be fairly benign, but when you are talking about signing a document for a random upstream company, a CLA can be much more reasonable to explain.

Thorough blog article from Michael Meeks (of GNOME and other things) -

User Journal

Journal: OpenVPN and Restarting

Journal by ciascu

Every-so-often, I come across a bug with a simple workaround that seems likely to be fairly commonly experienced, and Google is very little help. A classic example : n-m-openvpn shuts down VPN when openvpn soft-restarts. Essentially, every minute or so, my VPN dies, without any fanfare or visible notice. As I connect to my web dev network via VPN, then SSH in, the end effect is that my SSH connection hangs, mid-typing. Permanently.

Comment: Re:Wait, what? I'm a unicorn, arrest me? (Score 1) 488

by ciascu (#45205411) Attached to: Call Yourself a Hacker, Lose Your 4th Amendment Rights

So where does 'being a hacker' enter the picture?... The court used the 'we are hackers' statement as evidence that the defendant probably had the means and knowledge to destroy the evidence. Thus, the restraining order was granted.

I think the issue is that 'being a hacker' enters the picture most significantly here:

The tipping point for the Court comes from evidence that the defendants – in their own words – are hackers. By labeling themselves this way, they have essentially announced that they have the necessary computer skills and intent to simultaneously release the code publicly and conceal their role in that act.

That is, in the Court's view, that 'being a hacker' was both necessary ('tipping') and sufficient ('essentially announced..,', etc.) evidence that they had 'intent'. That's the scary bit - the misuse of a long-established technical term to pre-emptively trap someone, before they have any chance of input. This could very easily have been avoided by a basic level of technical background.

The other scary bit, as covered extensively already in the comments, is that this:

Battelle must show that the defendants have “a history of disposing of evidence or violating court orders or that persons similar to the adverse party have such a history.”

was essentially fulfilled by self-describing as a 'hacker' plus this:

Battelle asserts generally that defendants who have the technical ability to wipe out a hard drive will do precisely that when faced with allegations of wrongdoing.

This is the undelying point of all the analogies about capacity and intent above, whether they stack up for other reasons or not. So, I'd say there is a valid point that something went wrong. In terms of consequences, this is a public shaming for somebody trying to build a new business - whether intended as such or not and whether they are culpable or not, I can't imagine much from a business confidence survey on Southfork Security about now. The dubious logic allowed this to happen without any opportunity to protest in court. But, surely all publicity is good publicity... I guess I'd never heard of them til today.

There's a reason that the bar has to be so high: "a history of disposing of evidence or violating court orders or that persons similar to the adverse party have such a history.” Good thing they didn't notice the word 'fork' in the company name or they'd probably have the domain name too...

I don't know much about how such things work in the US, but is there any way that someone could be compensated if it was later shown that such action was negligent and (quantifiably) materially damaging?

Comment: Re:Hardcore Gnome Shell fans, seriously? (Score 1) 175

by ciascu (#41211829) Attached to: Ubuntu Gnome Remix 12.10 Arrives For Testing

Having enjoyed Ubuntu as a novel change from Slack and Debian, I was pretty unconvinced by Gnome Shell or Unity when they appeared, switched to Mint and, as Gnome 3 started to improve, switched to Fedora. Eventually, I released I missed the Ubuntu repos and familiarity of the Debian derivative structure, and returned to experimental Ubuntu Quantal.

The first thing I did was install Gnome Shell, as I still haven't warmed to Unity, and this has brought some interesting regressions. But I live with them (and have great, well-meaning intentions of delving into the code) because I now, for whatever reasons, really like Gnome Shell. In fact, having been introduced to Mac for the first time in the last few weeks, albeit a version a year or two out of date, I found the interface a wee bit clunky, not particularly intuitive and distinctly unslick for a moderately heavy terminal user. Nice enough, but knowing the alternatives, I wouldn't pay good money for it. That's fine, I'm not in the target demographic. Garage Band, however, I'm sold - those kind of experience applications I think Mac does fantastically, and I believe there are fantastic IDE/code versioning/project management GUIs, but that not the point here.

So I guess this article refers to me. I certainly don't remember jumping on any band wagons, in fact I'm pretty sure I ended up here by repeatedly jumping off them, and despite being decidedly unhardcore, I claim to be "excitingly different" on blind date forms, as the interwebs tell me preferring Gnome Shell to XFCE, Fluxbox or TTY makes me rarer than a unicorn in hen tooth pyjamas.

Comment: UK? (Score 5, Interesting) 101

by ciascu (#40000281) Attached to: UK To Give Peer-Reviewed Science Libel Protection
Unless I'm misunderstanding the Nature article and Google links, the title of this post is misleading: this is about England & Wales (which share their legal system) rather than the rest of the UK - there's an article here about the different implications that such a law would have on the Scottish legal system (English libel reform raises new Scottish question). I haven't seen any indication whether we'd adopt this in Northern Ireland.

Comment: Re:I'm divided (Score 2) 139

by ciascu (#39398073) Attached to: Kim Dotcom's Assets Seizure Order Ruled "Null and Void"

I think there's a good point here about the impact of this kind of process on a business, whether Kim Dotcom's or anybody else's and regardless of the outcome.

"Innocent until proven guilty" only applies in a court of law. In a world where decisions are made on the basis of an opportune fortune cookie that fell out of a bag on the shelf where I spotted my subscription copy of "Advertiser's Guide to Large File Hosting Monthly", law enforcement storming an executive's private residence with a cornucopia of guns and officers has an impact. Given the vast sums of money that change hands over ephemeral and esoteric patents on a component of a specific product, this is another order of magnitude in competitive disadvantage.

My point isn't that this specific case is right or wrong, but that we trust government, not the judiciary, to ensure this catastrophe only happens to the bad guys, which may be necessary but is still incompatible with "innocent until proven guilty". If there's a mistake, commensurate restitution is simply infeasible. Which is one reason many court cases involve name suppression, but then that opens another can of worms.

Comment: Personally (Score 5, Informative) 510

by ciascu (#39382835) Attached to: Van Rossum: Python Not Too Slow

As someone simulating fluid-structure interaction with a number of constituent models and a lot of finite element (i.e. big matrix problems; using FEniCS -, using Python makes my overall quite-long algorithm much easier to flick through. Invaluable for debugging the theory as well as the implementation. FEniCS' Python interface ties into the standard C/C++ libraries using SWIG and, in simple cases, saves me working in C++. Very clear, well-written C++ is great for this application but I find it takes considerably longer to write than clear Python.

When I hit a more intricate problem, I realized I was going to have to solve a series of FE matrices by hand (with PETSc, written in C). It turned out to be pretty straightforward to pick up SWIG, write a short module in C and a Python interface. Done! Particularly useful as I believe getting FEniCS and petsc4py to play well is tricky.

So, I'd agree - having written a C++ version of my (simpler) problem and a Python/C version of the complicated one, the latter was definitely easier, and all the rate-limiting stuff is in C anyhow.

Doubt it would be true for every situation but +1 from an FE perspective.

Comment: Re:Inconsistent Communication is failing them (Score 1) 304

by ciascu (#39199409) Attached to: Raspberry Pi Now Has Distributors -- and Will Soon Have Boards for All (Video)

Maybe I'm missing something, but the most impressive part for me has been how the Raspberry Pi team, and, notably, not the high profile global distribution networks, have been keeping everybody up-to-date on a pretty much continuous basis since launch. Over-communicating seems a little unfair accusation, given that they'd been getting such a high volume of queries since the sites went down - better than under-communicating, I say! I didn't have much trouble finding out what was going on from the Twitter stream, and realizing that they were having as much difficulty getting in touch with RS & Farnell as anybody else, to work out why the distributors had made up their own rulebook at gametime.

While the requirements are different, I think its pretty harsh for some of the other comments here to complain that the core team are underprepared when they have managed to keep their indie site up (largely?) but the pre-warned distribution chains have folded. In the nicest possible way, I actually thoroughly enjoyed watching the first couple hours of minute-by-minute, tell-it-like-it-is commentary from @Raspberry_Pi, who were getting a fantastic volume of tweets and doing a sterling job of keeping up with reports of RS & Farnell collapsing. Good work, peeps.

So, I dunno what's going on, but reading the Twitter stream makes me feel a lot more sympathetic to them than to either the distributors or the people complaining about service, whether my "Expression of Interest" gets me Raspberry Pi or no. At least you're not purchasing from NZ - Farnell NZ was offering them at ~US$65, probably pre-general-added-costs, with a 24 day delay.

Comment: Re:It's their bandwidth ... (Score 1) 582

by ciascu (#39182703) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Dealing With University Firewalls?

That's a fair comment. I recently had difficulties working remotely (necessarily) within a student network, primarily as the university erred on the side of caution maybe moreso than most. While I got the logic, it probably left me a little biased in this regard :) I've also come across a number of situations where students end up being tied into university, rather than self, directed learning.

Absolutely, it is important, and I don't think the grandparent made the point that students must take responsibility for their learning in the most constructive way. It would be a pretty awful profession to be in if you didn't care about students, and surely education is most effective when it is a co-operative act. So, apologies, I think we agree.

Comment: Re:get over it (Score 1) 582

by ciascu (#39175489) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Dealing With University Firewalls?

When I fly with, say, Air New Zealand, I am paying to arrive at my destination. My flight, depending on the direction, departure point and destination may well have significant subsidies both governmental and, de facto, from other flyers. However, if I had Ryanair service for 40 hours I'd be a little upset, and quite possibly in need of medical help on landing. While the whole point of the air journey is to arrive, I'm flying with AirNZ because (IMO) they provide a much better experience over that trip than the alternatives, for similar money. Multiply up to three years.

So, yes, the taxpayer does subsidize the average public university to a significant degree. The university makes many expenditures on the life-style of admin, faculty, postgrads and students, whether that is the odd kitchenette, subsized cafeteria prices, subsized health care, etc. There is no guarantee that these actually contribute to the productivity of the individual, but they do contribute to morale and quality of life.

I'm not going to say that Facebook access at University is fundamental to happiness, that'd be bizarre, but the suggestion that students aren't paying enough to have a say in their environment is a little odd.

Comment: Re:It's their bandwidth ... (Score 1) 582

by ciascu (#39175221) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Dealing With University Firewalls?
Ultimately, if students are unwilling to participate by learning, there isn't, and shouldn't be, anything that tutors can do to force them. If a tutor can't convince a student, who has chosen to sign up, why they should be interested enough to pass the course, there is an underlying problem with the attitude of either the tutor, or far more likely, the student. Overuse of the internet is a symptom, not a cause. While there is a valid point in terms of disruption, many lectures will be filled with students note-taking on laptops. Unless someone's just found a new Youtube gem and everybody else is crowding around, same difference. If so, see above. Bandwidth, fine, but do you expect students outside the lecture not to use social media? Can the cost of access incorporated in the student fees really be justified solely by the unblocked websites? Corralling them into the exam room, blocking internet access, etc. only masks the problem and raises the question - what do their marks signify? Capacity to work when coerced? Not much use for an employer, not much use as a life skill.

Comment: Re:Half of circumference? (Score 1) 332

by ciascu (#38500696) Attached to: I am, at present, from the place of my birth ...
As a Brit in NZ, I can confirm that this makes you very far away indeed. In fact, I am almost exactly (with a decent walk of) 19,000km from where I was born, so I guess that's close enough to 47.5%. As such, I felt at liberty, amongst other things, to eat macaroni cheese for lunch, sunbathe and watch three movies on Christmas Day. In fact, as well as being in the furthest city in the world from where I was born, I'm doing postgrad at the farthest university from my undergrad. While I know this can easily be surpassed (e.g. any Kiwis in Spain or v.v.), I'd be interested to know how frequently it is - anybody else 19,000km or more?

Doctors Save Premature Baby Using Sandwich Bag 246

Posted by samzenpus
from the keeping-baby-fresh dept.
Born 14 weeks early, Lexi Lacey owes her life to some MacGyver inspired doctors and a sandwich bag. Lexi was so small at birth that even the tiniest insulating jacket was too big, but she fit into a plastic sandwich bag nicely. ''The doctors told us they had never known a baby born as prematurely as Lexi survive. She was so tiny the only thing they had to keep her body temperature warm was a sandwich bag from the hospital canteen — it's incredible to think that saved her life," says her mom.

If you think the system is working, ask someone who's waiting for a prompt.