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Comment: Use vs. Collect (Score 1) 219

by iCharles (#44922577) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Prioritizing Saleable Used Computer Books?
I think the less than 5 years is good for a useful computer book for the most part. There are a few folks who may want the older stuff for legacy systems, or things that are institutions (such as vi or EMACS) that will likely be around forever that it gives a good baseline on.

However, there are a few cases where the book may be more of interest from a collectable/historical perspective. I have a battered copy of Programming Perl, with a copyright date of 1991--it has the pink spine. About ten years ago, I took it to a talk by Larry Wall, and he signed books afterwards. In front of me were several folks with shrink-wrapped copies of the latest edition (I think it was the third or fourth by then). When he got to me, he opened to the title page, then paused. He flipped back to the cover, noted that it was first edition, and well loved. He smiled at me, then signed and stamped by book.

Comment: Been There, Done That (Score 1) 94

by iCharles (#42922203) Attached to: Blogging Platform Posterous To Shut Down April 30
This happened with Vox. They had tools to let you move it to TypePad or WordPress. I split the difference (my Vox archive is on TypePad, new stuff on WordPress.com). That said, this, as well as the Instagram situation last December, calls out a common issue, especially with free services. How are things owned? What happens if they go away. Almost all of the pictures on my WordPress blog are hosted at Flickr. Fortunately, Flickr's TOS are somewhat better than what Instagram proposed from the ownership perspective. However, I'm screwed if they go away. I suppose I'd be better paying for hosting (and, to an extent, I do with Flickr), but I'm not sure I can fully justify it for a hobby-blog. For many, self-hosting isn't an option: they lack the skills and (even modest) equipment to do so. I could do it, but there are a million other things I'd rather do with my time. Fortunately, both WordPress and Flickr have good tools for pulling information out, so, for now, I'm going to roll with that.

Comment: 5.95 Seconds (Score 1) 91

by iCharles (#41258991) Attached to: DARPA's Robo-Cheetah Is Now Faster Than Usain Bolt
Sarah, a cheetah at the Cincinnati Zoo, set the 100 meter record for land mammal in June at 5.95 seconds--four seconds better than Bolt. This works out to 37.6 mph. While a cheetah in the wild might not quite hit that mark, they are easily faster than Bolt or 'bot, and do so on unprepared terrain, and often with zigs and zags chasing prey. DARPA has a way to go.

Comment: Spend Money to Save Money (Score 1) 551

by iCharles (#33123442) Attached to: The Recovery Disc Rip-Off
I'm working with a SOHO on a workstation refresh. The brand new Lenovo workstations don't come with OS disks (only the burn-your-own recovery disk option). So, we either have to buy Win7 OS media (which, in my mind, makes licensing tricky), or accept the OS load as is, and try to surgically remove anything bloaty. Either way, no good option when you are only talking about half-a-dozen workstations.

We're trying to de-bloat.

I contrast this with big companies I work for/with. With hundreds or thousands of seats, they have the critical mass to justify an Enterprise Licenses with Microsoft that means they get what they need. Buy a hundred workstations, and blast down a clean, standard image. As an added perk, they don't have to troubleshoot too deep, just re-blast.

Comment: Join the Real World (Score 1) 439

by iCharles (#31127118) Attached to: Yale Switching To Gmail, Not Without Opposition
My office supplies me an e-mail account for work. I accept the privacy implications there (i.e. there are none). I also have various personal e-mail accounts. I assume my employer won't have access to them (absent a subpoena), and I take into account whatever privacy concerns might be associated with the service I choose to use.

Assuming that Yale isn't blocking access for other mail services, I fail to see how this is any different. Use the yale.edu account for school related matters, and get your own account for private messages.

Of course, this also means that Yale's IT organization has taken into account the implications outsourcing has on the school's intellectual property, etc. As part of the RFP and selection process, these items should be taken into account to ensure the outsourcer's offering has sufficient controls. This is really no different than any large organization choosing to select Exchange, Notes, GroupWise, or outsourcing the service through any number of third party providers. *I do recognize that Google Buzz does change the thought process for GMail users. Of course, that is also a contract issue with Google-as-outsourcer (i.e. privacy and intellectual property protections should be built into the contract, and the outsourcer is obliged to ensure their offering meets the contract specifications).

Comment: Re:yes (Score 1) 1049

by iCharles (#30723432) Attached to: Does a Lame E-Mail Address Really Matter?
I totally agree--make it look professional. In an age of free e-mail, there really is no excuse for cutegirl1998 or gamerstud on a resume. I've spoken to recruiters as well as ready scores of job hunt sites. Having an e-mail address based on your name is recommended. In addition to putting on a more professional face than webgod1998, it helps make sure that "Resume of John Deaux.doc" will be associated with johndeaux@gmail.com.

Comment: Trickle Down (Score 1) 814

by iCharles (#29661827) Attached to: Most Mac Owners Also Own a Windows PC, But Not Vice Versa
When I got my first Mac, my daughter (almost 5) inherited my old PC. I twas good enough for light web surfing/educational games. If/when she needs more power, we'll revisit it. However, a six-year-old Pentium IV seems to be good-enough for her. So, I suspect that a chunk of the "Mac-and-Windows" households have an older system that has been displaced by a newer one.

Comment: Moot Point? (Score 1) 436

by iCharles (#28624601) Attached to: Judge Rules IP Addresses Not "Personally Identifiable"
I get the whole notion, that the best you can hope for in relating an IP to a specific entity is, most narrowly, a computer, or, more broadly, a network. I wonder what the practical effect of the ruling will be?

If an IP is suspected of criminal activity, and it can be related to only a particular network/house, the case may not be a slam dunk. However, it may well be enough to create all sorts of joy for that network/house. It's probably enough probably cause for a warrant which will then find all computer attached to that network confiscated. If they can pin the behavior to a specific machine, then anyone who had access to that machine could be under suspicion.

If you run an open WiFi site, the net could be broadened to any computer the the radius of your signal--the neighbors will love you. Even though one can make the arguement that some random car with a laptop might have parked in front of your house, and you might carry the day in court, you'll still have a lot of hassle and legal fees.

(And that doesn't include anything that might shake out from what's on those computers (child porn, etc.), discovered as a consequence of the search. For that matter, how are charges filed for such a thing on a shared computer?)

I'm not sure the RIAA would be able to get such warrants/subpoena based solely on an IP address. While it will prevent them from simply creating suits based only on IP address, at the end of the day it's just one more hoop to jump through.

At the end of the day, that's my point: while it definitely raises the bar for legal action, I'm not sure it does much more than that in practice.

Note that I'm not a lawyer--this could be 100% bunk (or more!).

Comment: Shredder (Score 4, Interesting) 527

by iCharles (#26371125) Attached to: "Smash Your Hard Drive" To Fight Identity Theft
I periodically contract with a company to dispose of old hardware for my company. The first time i talked to them, they mentioned they shredded old media. I assumed he meant floppies and tapes and the like. Given the nature of the material, it didn't seem that impressive, but certainly nice. When I got the estimate, I was a bit shocked--why was it so high? Then they explained--by "media," they meant hard drives. They sent me a PDF on the equipment. Hard drives are removed from machines, and placed on a conveyor belt. This fed the hard drive into the shredder. On the other end, bits of metal came out. I begged them to let me operate it--just for one or two drives. Damn lawyers!

Comment: Is "Preferred Medium" a Legitimate Criteria? (Score 1) 715

by iCharles (#25930013) Attached to: An Ethical Question Regarding Ebooks
With respect to the exact circumstance, where the book is unavailable aside from a used copy, I'd probably be less likely to say getting a pirated ebook is wrong. I suspect it is a similar scenario as abandonware, software that is no longer sold or supported (perhaps even the platform it runs on is no longer in common use), but copyright is still technically in effect. If it is a reference rather than, say, a bit of fiction, I'd feel better about it (though really, the ethical argument is the same).

That said, one line in the original post struck me. "You can buy it from Amazon as a used book, but that isn't your preferred medium." What if a book you wanted or needed were only available as a hard copy, and is currently produced? For the sake of argument, let's say it's brand new, hot off the press--only Stallman might argue that the author doesn't have a right to a copyright. It's not your preferred medium, but it is legitimately available. There is a pirated copy available. Would you take the pirated copy? Would you argue that, since they aren't making it in your preferred format, it's fair game?

Take it to the next level: say, a year or two from now, your book is released--brand new printing. Perhaps even expanded! Alas, no etext. Would you buy a copy, just to bring you back to good standing, or would you rationalize it by saying there is no etext (your preferred medium, after all)?

(I'll grant this: in any scenario, while perhaps not legally correct, I would see no ethical problem obtaining a legitimate copy of the book, and grabbing the etext. My comments are more around just going out and grabbing the etext.

If all the world's economists were laid end to end, we wouldn't reach a conclusion. -- William Baumol

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