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Comment Re:Definition (Score 1) 568

I would add to:

"1.the art or science of making practical application of the knowledge of pure sciences,...."

when such knowledge is available.

Engineers had to construct things before science provided any tools (like Romans built bridges, without stress analysis). Programming is a discipline where the practice is ahead of the theory, but I would still call it engineering.

Comment Don't like GPLv3? Write your own implementation. (Score 1) 311

So if "[e]ven when there is a permissive license, it's still incredibly difficult for a new file format to gain any traction" then there there would seem to be nothing lost by licensing the reference implementation under the GNU GPLv3 despite your vague claim that the GPL hinders "broad adoption". You say "If the ultimate goal is to promote this file format, this is not the best way of doing it" but you say nothing about what "the best way" is or what constitutes "best".

"FOSS" means free and open source software, software released under a license approved of by both the Free Software Foundation and the Open Source Initiative; there are many other such licenses. It's unclear what you mean by "FOSS/GPL" as being somehow distinct from the "GPL" (meaning the GNU General Public License), a term used for decades which requires no qualification. Perhaps you're confused by the term "GNU/Linux" which is the GNU operating system in combination with the Linux kernel (as opposed to, GNU/HURD or GNU/kFreeBSD, to name a couple of examples, which are the GNU OS with the HURD or FreeBSD kernels respectively).

For being moderated as insightful I see a self-contraction, unclear use of confused terminology, and a complaint hinting that something far better should be done without any explanation of what that is.

Comment Copylefted free software is needed (Score 1) 166

Even if the software source code isn't necessary for the emissions testing out of the tailpipe it is necessary for car owners to make the car do what they want. This is an opportunity for the public to get the car that is completely under their control. There's plenty of other fraudulent behavior that is under the control of the car software which can't be fixed except by changing the software (radio emissions and input via car remote controls, for example). Car owners deserve to be able to control their owned objects completely while complying with reasonable laws. Therefore we need strongly copylefted free software to achieve this in order to grant and secure the necessary freedoms for the foreseeable future.

Comment Accountability & prevention: AGPL3 or later (Score 1) 494

We need accountability and prevention. Accountability should come in the form of corporate death penalties (as in the corporation's assets are seized to pay debts and the corporation no longer exists), and prevention in the form of publishing complete corresponding source code to all cars sold in the US as a part of the car. When you buy a car, you should own the car including all software installed on that car. Other countries would be wise to follow suit to protect their citizens and the environment from apparently malevolent multi-year fraudsters who wish to dodge ecological regulations.

The Free Software Foundation was right: all published software must be free. But since this situation highlights how fraud and abuse can be hidden in nonfree software, we can defend ourselves from this with strongly copylefted free software (right now that means AGPL v3 or later). I don't want anyone taking any car in for any work and coming out with nonfree software thus reintroducing this problem. You cannot have safe computer software without software freedom. And a strong copylefted free software license plus multiple freedom-minded contributors who are willing to pursue lawsuits will help defend against proprietary derivatives (as such legal work has done for the Linux kernel). As I said in the recent VW thread on this: I don't care about upstream copyright excuses should VW claim to have built their software on nonfree upstream code. Our individual and collective safety is far too important. This, like virtually everything else we do, is a matter of political will to do the right and just thing.

When people come around to seeing how an increasing dependence on computers (namely, putting computers in everything) means risking our lives, our civil liberties, our health, our freedom to move without being tracked, and more, we can easily justify pushing for more strongly copylefted free software.

Comment Number of lines of code is a distraction. (Score 1) 618

I read the "single line of code" editorial as a distraction away from what matters: accountability and prevention.

Accountability can come in the form of lawsuits from affected car owners and those who can show the subsequent environmental harm caused a problem for them. Letting VW negotiate its own fate is ridiculous and, if the government's action with GM is any guide, unlikely to result in more than a slap of the wrist.

Prevention must also be dealt with, and strongly copylefted free software licenses will help here. Whether this was the result of a mistake (VW's years-long negligence) or planning (VW's years-long fraudulence) is a detail as far as prevention goes because either way VW should be freeing the complete source code to the cars and providing complete specifications for any code it cannot provide so as to allow the easiest possible reverse engineering. Any cost of purchasing code for freeing should be borne by VW.

VW is not in a position to dicker here. I don't buy the excuse of uncooperative upstream providers VW depends on for their code and the public shouldn't either. The stakes (our health) are too high to settle for less than complete corresponding source code under a strong copylefted license so that any published improvements are also free. Keep in mind, this is code car owners should have had from day 1 under a free license so they can fully own their own cars, taking code to experts they trust just like many take their car mechanisms to garages they trust to get fixed. Trusting the market got us where we are now, the market apparently will not grant us the freedom to let us help ourselves and our air-breathing neighbors by fixing the defective VW cars already out there since 2009 (over 480,000 of them). Not buying VW reaches the same conclusion. Not recognizing software freedom for its own sake and the preservation of that protection in copyleft will increasingly become a matter of life and death as we entrust more of our daily functions to software.


NSF Makes It Rain: $722K Award To Evaluate Microsoft-Backed TEALS 64

theodp writes: Microsoft has $92 billion in cash parked offshore, so it's kind of surprising to see a $722K National Science Foundation award is going towards validating the efficacy of Microsoft TEALS, the pet program of CEO Satya Nadella that sends volunteer software engineers with no teaching experience into high schools to teach kids and their teachers computer science. Among its Program Changes for 2015, TEALS said it "explicitly commits to provide a core set of curriculum materials that are complete, organized, and adaptable," which should help improve the outcome of the Developing Computer Science Pedagogical Content Knowledge through On-the-Job Learning NSF study schools are being asked to participate in. Meanwhile, CSTUY, a volunteer organization led by experienced CS teachers (including Slashdot user zamansky), finds itself turning to Kickstarter for $25K to fund Saturday Hacking Sessions. So, as Microsoft-backed — which has also attracted NSF award money to validate its CS program — is fond of saying: What's wrong with this picture? (To be fair to TEALS: it may have Microsoft backing, but it's not strictly a Microsoft effort, and also started out as a pure volunteer effort, as founder Kevin Wang explained earlier this year.)

Comment Solve the actual underlying problem (Score 1) 492

Not the symptom or its manifestation.

The fundamental problem is that few US citizens are motivated to attain high levels of education, and to earn their wages / wealth by contributing to society, rather than living off subsidies doled out by the guvment.

A related problem is the high debts incurred in the process of getting educated, thereby creating wage slaves.

Another less fundamental problem is that the dollar is artificially high, and kept there by vested interests. If the market value of the dollar reflects its true worth, people from India will neither be motivated to move in to the US, nor supply manpower, because it will yield fewer rupees.

So long as these basic issues are addressed, we will see more of such Hem and Haw, dithering and filibustering, rather than resolution.

Comment Privacy is a prerequsite for liberty (Score 1) 316

Hacking free software continues to prove fruitful. In fact, some people use it and rely on it for their freedoms (such as Edward Snowden). But proprietary software is long known to be untrustworthy by default, no matter who the proprietor is or what excuse they (or their water carriers) have for denying users software freedom. So there's no gain to be had in a capitulation view. Privacy and other freedoms are worth fighting for and there's plenty of good to be had in the fight. Some of those fights take the form of saying "no" to a convenience or trend on the grounds that one values one's privacy more.

The brain is a wonderful organ; it starts working the moment you get up in the morning, and does not stop until you get to work.