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Comment Re:I'll never understand why we privatize (Score 1) 145

Because cable companies (which became cable ISPs) weren't originally something you could call a public utility. When they started, nobody knew what was the best way to rig up houses, or allocate bandwidth. When they started offering Internet service, that increased the complexity because now each home needed to be able to transmit data back to the cable company. These were all complex problems with a plethora of possible solutions. The "myth of capitalist efficiency" is precisely what filtered out the bad solutions over three decades, leaving only the efficient ones.

Who cares about the cable companies? If we had a public data utility, we'd have just strung fiber everywhere and no one would have had to solve the problem of transmitting upstream over coax. Then those who wanted to continue to be robbed by the cable companies could continue to do so while the rest of us purchased our data services a la carte. Heck, the cable companies could even provide their services over the new infrastructure.

This is what we were supposed to get via our existing common carrier infrastructure if the phone companies hadn't stolen all the money for it. Since private industry has proven itself too inept or crooked to get this done, I think it's high time we take it over as a public works project.

Comment Re:Marketplace Justice (Score 1) 103

They can see and hear a lot of details of activity inside the house, not just the baby. Whatever is in range of the camera and microphone.

Again, what's the threat? It's creepy, yes, but you have to be within about 50' of the house to pick up the baby monitor (maybe a little further with a high gain antenna). That's either in the middle of the street or a neighbor's yard. Someone who is that close can tell if anyone is home anyway. And anyone just loitering outside my home, in my yard, or in a neighbor's yard in the middle of the night is probably going to have some questions to answer before too long.

Random kidnappings, especially ones involving home invasions are so rare they are not worth worrying about. They just get sensationalized to such a degree that people worry about them disproportionally. The chances of it happening to your family specifically are basically 0. Your kid probably has a better chance of getting struck by lightning.

And if someone wants to rob me, well there's not much I can do to prevent that regardless. I have an alarm to deter casual thieves, but locks only keep out honest people. That's what I have insurance for.

Comment Re:4 way stops are retarded (Score 1) 436

The state of Washington, and the Mythbusters would tell you that roundabouts are safer (for cars and pedestrians), cheaper to build, and more economical for drivers than either a 4-way stop, or light controlled intersection. There seem to be multiple other studies with similar results, a search for "safety of roundabouts vs. 4-way stop" brings up pages full.

I'm from MA where we have rotaries all over the place, and while I agree that in theory they are a good idea, in practice nobody knows how to use them. People routinely refuse to yield when entering, don't move left to let others enter, and ignore exit-only lanes. And that's with people who for the most part grew up with them, never mind introducing them in a new area. You can also end up with monstrosities like this, which aren't really that small compares to a couple of intersections.

Comment Re:So... (Score 5, Insightful) 180

The problem is that these devices will further alienate the police from the communities that they are ostensibly supposed to be serving. It's already a problem that there are hardly any cops that walk a beat anymore. Instead they are in their patrol cars the whole time and only get out when something is going down. This means that cops are no longer interacting with members of a community. No one has any positive interactions with police as the only time they interact with an officer is when he is hassling or arresting someone.

If police drones, especially armed ones, become commonplace, my fear is that it will only deepen the police/civilian divide. It will be only a matter of time before we hear about kids getting tasered for "walking while black".

Comment Re:XB1 and PS4 Integration? (Score 1) 94

Until there's an app on both of these platforms, this is going to be an also-ran.

I'm sure console integration is something they thought about. But in any case to me it feels like most of the big streaming games are either eSports-type multi-player titles (MOBAs, Starcraft, CS:GO) or indie PC let's plays. If you look on twitch, there are plenty of console games in the top 25, but not many console exclusives. I think the PC streaming market alone is big enough to sustain a competing PC-only service at least until Google can work out a deal with the console makers.

I think the bigger obstacle right now is that the site isn't even loading for me right now: it just sits at a black screen forever. I guess even Google's servers aren't immune to launch hiccups.

Comment Re:Overkill for MOBAs (Score 1) 85

I'm sorry but someone with a Mac Pro doesn't have the right to talk about "stock hardware" being more than enough.

It's not about the fact that it's a Mac Pro. Mac's have shit out of date GPUs. If a GPU that was out of date and under-powered 4 years ago can comfortably run today's MOBAs, then one can infer that a reasonably current budget PC with stock hardware can as well.

Comment Overkill for MOBAs (Score 3, Insightful) 85

If this is targeted at MOBA players, then it is probably overkill. I've got a 2011 Mac Pro with a Radeon 5870 (850Mhz GPU, 1GB VRAM). Playing League of Legends at 1920x1200, 60fps is no problem for this setup. These games are not graphically intensive, nor do they require much CPU horsepower. If you are going to drop money on hardware for MOBA gaming, spend it on a nice keyboard/mouse and the lowest latency ISP you can find. If your machine is less than 5 years old, whatever came stock is more than enough to play the game.

Comment Re: not shock (Score 4, Insightful) 182

How are issues with odors and other types of pollution resolved by the tort law as it stands now? Would a factory that started spewing poisonous gases be liable for any downwind damages? You are right though that "own air" is a poor choice of words.

If my lungs are destroyed by your factory, it's not much solace to me if my heirs get some money 5 years after I'm dead. I'd much rather have a strongly enforced regulation that prevents you from doing it in the first place.

Comment Re:Groklaw Needed More Than Ever (Score 4, Insightful) 457

It's not the end of the world. Use of an interface for purposes of interoperability has been declared fair use. The Google vs Oracle case is still in court, trying to decide if Google's use of Java is fair use.

It's a serious blow to interoperability and to open source in general. Fair use is and affirmative defense, not an absolute right. It's very subjective. In order to even assert fair use, you have to be sued, refuse to settle, go to court, and convince a judge that the fair use defense applies... and then you have to actually litigate the case, with the risk you will lose, be out potentially millions in your own legal costs, plus damages, plus maybe paying the plaintiff's costs. This is a huge burden for anyone but a massive corporation to meet.

It is impossible to write a non-trivial Java application without extending or overriding some API "owned" by Sun/Oracle. This means that basically every Java application and by extension, every program that implements a public, non-open-source API or is written in a proprietary language exists at the sufference of the API/language creator. Maybe you could go to court and try to assert "fair use", but good luck doing that if you are not Google.

Comment Re:Groklaw Needed More Than Ever (Score 5, Informative) 457

And the difference between this and the MS Java case is...what exactly? Because the only difference I can see is Google pulled a name out of their ass, which means all MSFT had to do was call it "MS Coffee" and it would have all been golden.

The difference is trademarks. Microsoft called their unauthorized implementation Java(tm). You don't get to do that without passing Sun's certification process. MS never implemented the entire Java specification. They modified some parts and left others out (embrace and extend). So someone who wrote a Java program against the Sun JDK and brought it to the MS platform would potentially see it fail out of the box. Due to these issues Sun used it's trademark to sue for relief from having its brand damaged.

This is different from unauthorized implementations that did not claim to be official Java products. Indeed, prior to Sun open sourcing the HotSpot JVM, there were quite a few open source unofficial implementations: e.g. GNU Kaffe, Apache Harmony, GCJ, etc. Claiming ownership over interfaces/API is a new and treacherous behavior that came along with Oracle.

And what if somebody was to do this to Linux? After all they have access to the code, should be easy enough to just rip it off and take it proprietary by following the Google model, what would the difference be? None at all.

None. Linus owns the Linux trademark in many countries. Assuming someone didn't copy the source code and just re-implemented the APIs, it would be totally kosher as long as you didn't call it "Linux". How do you think Linux was allowed to exist in the first place? It's just an unauthorized implementation of a bunch of POSIX APIs, but because Linus didn't call his kernel a UNIX(tm) system or claim POSIX(tm) compliance, he didn't run afoul of trademark law.

Comment Re:false premise (Score 1) 38

Computer Science can be taught to people with basic reading and math skills. Some experience typing is helpful but not necessary. I am working with my seven year old daughter on various tech skills.

I would break it down into:

1. Critical thinking/problem solving
2. Basic math (e.g. algebra, some trig)
3. Set theory/boolean algebra

I think the biggest gap in our schools is with #1, largely because they're too busy teaching to some irrelevant standardized test rather than helping kids learn how to learn, which is probably the most valuable skill anyone can get out of a primary education.

As long as we're going to reinvent the wheel again, we might as well try making it round this time. - Mike Dennison