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Comment: Thanks for the cite. (Score 1) 440

by Ungrounded Lightning (#48191563) Attached to: Manga Images Depicting Children Lead to Conviction in UK

No. In the U.S. cartoon images ARE protected by the First Amendment. This was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2002. (Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition, 535 U.S. 234 (2002)). Sometimes our Supreme court DOES get it right!

Thanks for the cite!

I'm really happy to be proven wrong on this one.

Comment: Constitutions CAN be useful, if honored. (Score 0) 440

by Ungrounded Lightning (#48188597) Attached to: Manga Images Depicting Children Lead to Conviction in UK

Yeah, this is stupid. You can't sentence people for drawing and using a paper and pen, whatever the content of their drawing, ...

Sure "you" can. This was in the UK. They don't have First Amendment protections, so the law is what's passed and enforced.

Last I heard, some jurisdictions in the US have some similar anti-pornography laws, banning drawn images. In the US the anti-pornography laws are justified against the clear prohibition on such laws in the First Amendment by claiming the purveyors of pornography are part of a conspiracy with the pornographer who abused an underage child by photographing her.

Obviously this justification is bogus when the image is drawn. So while the prohibition is on the books, I understand the authorities are reluctant to actually enforce it against anyone who has enough money to appeal it. So they tend to use such laws only when they can't find (or plant) any actual child pictures on a target(s) they've raided, but still really want to jail them and seize their assets, or as a "pour on the counts" measure when knocking the law down wouldn't do much for the accused.

(I think the underage are underripe and have no personal interest in such fare. So I don't follow the issue closely, except when someone threatens to post such stuff on a system I administer. Maybe somebody else, with more reliable and/or up-to-date knowledge, can comment?)

Comment: How about an insulated box at the counter? (Score 1) 316

by Ungrounded Lightning (#48188411) Attached to: An Algorithm to End the Lines for Ice at Burning Man

Even if the Nevada health department DID have an objection, what's wrong with having some ice bags in an insulated box at the counter and calling THAT a "cooler" or "icebox"? It wouldn't need to be powered, because it would be kept cold by the steady flow of fresh bags from the supply truck.

You'd have to run it as a FIFO, to avoid having bags sitting there for hours. (Bag porters put 'em in one end, clerks pull them out at the other - or put a moving partition in and run it as a circular buffer, so you don't have to slide them down. No additional communication between counter workers and bag-porters is necessary, because the available open space signals when more bags need to be toted. Only downside I see is that if/when the counter is about to close, you need to signal the porters to stop, to avoid having unsold bags in the cooler that need to be ported back to the truck to keep them from melting during the break.)

Such a local buffer would do all you want, without leaving the ice bags sitting on a counter in the desert. Also: The ice would be seen by the customers to be fresh, rather than partially melted while waiting to be picked up.

Comment: I had one for a while. (Score 2) 291

It was a military surplus rifle that had been "sporterized" (mainly by cutting the stock down to a more civilian profile).

The Enfield has an interesting history: Back in the period leading up to WWII the British mmilitary had a good idea the war was coming. The army was armed mainly wiith the Lee-Enfield bolt action rifles and they knew they needed a good slect fire automatic/semiautomatic rifle to replace them, least they be outgunned. But they debated over WHICH design to pick for so long that, when the Blitzkreig brought the Germans into a faceoff with the British, the autos weren't yet deployed.

It turns out that the Lee-Enfield action has a number of features that make it VERY much faster to operate than other bolt-action military weapons of the time. The bolt has a very small throw angle. It has rear, not front, locking lugs (out where there's lots of clearance and little stress and opportunity for dirt to gum them up). The action is almost glassy-smooth. The bolt ball is located where it can be opened by the thumb, while slapping it closed with the palm, doesn't require accurate positioning of the hand, and guides the hand back to the correct position to fire, letting the user's attention remain on the target scene and sight picture. It cocks on closing (rather than on opening as Mausers do), dedicating essentially all the energy on opening to case extraction, rather than splitting it with spring-cocking and keeping the opening and closing work closer to equal.

The result is that, with a modicum of practice, a rifleman with a Lee-Enfield can achieve higher firing rates than the operator of a machine gun. (Machine gun rates are deliberately limited to make them easier to control and aim, avoid wasting ammunition, and reduce overheating, burnout, and jamming.) It can't keep it up as LONG, because the Lee Enfield has a small, fixed, magazine. But it can fire a couple fast, controlled, bursts - just what is needed in many situations - using a powerful rifle cartridge.

By comparison the Germans were armed with things like the recently developed "assault rifle" - a short-barreled select-fire rifle (for easy handling in cramped hallways or popping up out of a tank hatch), firing a low-powered cartridge. (Militaries had figured out that a gun should be designed to WOUND, not kill: Kill a soldier and you take one out of action - wound him and you use up him, his buddy, a medic, and a lot of infrastructure and supplies taking care of him and shipping him back home.)

The Blitzkreig stormed across much of Europe and encountered only limited resistance, typically armed with the likes of the slower bolt-action Mausers. Then they came up against the British. They knew the Brits were armed with bolt-actions and believed their own propaganda about their lack of resolve. So they expected to sweep them up as they had their previous encounters. They came charging out, and were blasted back, repeatedly, by withering fire. There are records of communications from the front where the officers were claiming all the Brits were armed with machine guns. (I hear one of these records is a recording - with the officer in question being killed in mid-message by a round from one of those Lee-Enfields.)

Comment: Medicare needs a separate number. (Score 1) 59

We have the same thing here in the US, but good luck getting a new SSN if it gets compromised.

What bugs me is I've been refusing to give out my SS# to any operation that didn't have a federal mandate to get it for decades - since at LEAST the '80s.

Then I aged into eligibility for medicare - and other health insurers insist that, since I'm eligible, they'll only pay the difference between my coverage with them and what Medicare pays (which is most of the bill), even if I don't collect from Medicare. Not collecting from Medicare would be a financial disaster.

But Medicare's I.D. is the social security number with a single letter appended to it. Every clerk at every doctor's office, clinic, hospital, pharmacy, etc. that I interact with gets my SS#. Ever such operation's database has my SS#. I went to Costco for a flu shot, so now Costco has my SS#. Every store's database is a chance for a cracker to collect it. Every clerk is a chance for some crook to tempt them and buy it.

There was recently an article wringing its hands over the discovery that people over 65 have a higher incidence of identity theft. Well DUH!

The solution would be fore Medicare to assign a separate medicare number for making claims and otherwise interacting with them - something randomly picked (not algorithmically generated from the SS#, which would return to the current case as soon as the algorithm leaked), and only paired with the SS# (if at all) in a database in the relevant government department.

Comment: Re:Fewer candidates to draw from... (Score 1) 578

by cpt kangarooski (#48164523) Attached to: FBI Says It Will Hire No One Who Lies About Illegal Downloading

And you showed nothing that describes dowloading. The owner of the server controls whether a copy is made or a file is transfered and is responsablty for the distribution.


ReDigi was a company that claimed to sell used music files, just as a used bookstore sells books. It argued that it was protected under the 17 USC 109, the first sale exception, by claiming that copying then deleting files was a transfer. (Even they were not so stupid as to believe that it's possible to transfer a file over a network without copying in the process, even if this is not apparent to the user)

The court that heard the case shut them down:

Courts have consistently held that the unauthorized duplication of digital music files over the Internet infringes a copyright owner's exclusive right to reproduce. However, courts have not previously addressed whether the unauthorized transfer of a digital music file over the Internet -- where only one file exists before and after the transfer -- constitutes reproduction within the meaning of the Copyright Act. The Court holds that it does.

You should read the whole thing:

It even points out, as I have, that this is unavoidable:

This understanding is, of course, confirmed by the laws of physics. It is simply impossible that the same "material object" can be transferred over the Internet. Thus, logically, the court in London-Sire noted that the Internet transfer of a file results in a material object being "created elsewhere at its finish." Because the reproduction right is necessarily implicated when a copyrighted work is embodied in a new material object, and because digital music files must be embodied in a new material object following their transfer over the Internet, the Court determines that the embodiment of a digital music file on a new hard disk is a reproduction within the meaning of the Copyright Act.

Case law is not law either.

It is in the US.

Judges have been wrong before and they will be wrong in the future.

What does that have to do with anything? You think that legislators are never wrong?

Comment: Re:Fewer candidates to draw from... (Score 1) 578

by cpt kangarooski (#48156707) Attached to: FBI Says It Will Hire No One Who Lies About Illegal Downloading

just that the act of downloading a file is not magically illegal despite no law defining it so

Here are the laws that make unauthorized downloading of copyrighted works prima facie illegal in the US:

17 USC 501(a): "Anyone who violates any of the exclusive rights of the copyright owner as provided by sections 106 through 122 ... is an infringer of the copyright ... of the author."

17 USC 106: "Subject to sections 107 through 122, the owner of copyright under this title has the exclusive rights ... to reproduce the copyrighted work in copies."

17 USC 101: "'Copies' are material objects ... in which a work is fixed by any method now known or later developed, and from which the work can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device. The term 'copies' includes the material object ... in which the work is first fixed."

"A 'device', 'machine', or 'process' is one now known or later developed."

"A work is 'fixed' in a tangible medium of expression when its embodiment in a copy or phonorecord, by or under the authority of the author, is sufficiently permanent or stable to permit it to be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated for a period of more than transitory duration. A work consisting of sounds, images, or both, that are being transmitted, is 'fixed' for purposes of this title if a fixation of the work is being made simultaneously with its transmission."

If Alice has a file server on which are copyrighted works, and Bob, without permission from the copyright holder, downloads them, Bob causes his computer to fix those works in a tangible medium of expression (such as a hard drive), which creates new copies of those works. The copy is the tangible medium, again e.g. a hard drive, not the mere intangible files. By creating copies without permission, Bob has infringed on the exclusive right of the copyright holder to make new copies.

So, it's prima facie infringing.

You actually conceded this point earlier; you obliquely referred to 17 USC 117, which is an exception dealing with computer programs. Section 117 is completely unnecessary if no prima facie infringement occurs. Much in the way that you don't have to bother raising a defense to a charge of murder, like self-defense, if the supposed victim is still alive. Or if programming is more your thing, think of an if-then-else statement: if infringement occurs, then see if section 117 applies, else infringement has not occurred, so exit.

So you appear to agree that downloading is prima facie infringement, the question is simply whether the exception in 117 saves the downloader. It almost never will.

17 USC 117: "(a) Notwithstanding the provisions of section 106, it is not an infringement for the owner of a copy of a computer program to make or authorize the making of another copy or adaptation of that computer program provided:
(1) that such a new copy or adaptation is created as an essential step in the utilization of the computer program in conjunction with a machine and that it is used in no other manner, or
(2) that such new copy or adaptation is for archival purposes only and that all archival copies are destroyed in the event that continued possession of the computer program should cease to be rightful.

(b) Any exact copies prepared in accordance with the provisions of this section may be leased, sold, or otherwise transferred, along with the copy from which such copies were prepared, only as part of the lease, sale, or other transfer of all rights in the program. Adaptations so prepared may be transferred only with the authorization of the copyright owner."

17 USC 101: "A 'computer program' is a set of statements or instructions to be used directly or indirectly in a computer in order to bring about a certain result."

This usually won't work because Bob, the downloader, almost certainly 1) isn't the owner of a copy prior to making a new copy, which is necessary in 117 to be allowed to make the new copy; 2) isn't making copies for archival purposes only; 3) most data, such as music, movies, etc. will not be treated as computer programs by courts, despite the broad language in section 101.

I mean, feel free to try it, but you have my guarantee that you'll not just lose, but be laughed at.

The theory that when you download you cause a copy to be made is erroneous because there are specifically outlined situations in law where a transfer in that way is legal and the onus rests on the server to be compliant- not the downloader.

Okay genius, I've cited the relevant statutes for making my argument. It's time for you to put up or shut up.

Remember to cite very specifically, and to look at definitions. You may also want to look at relevant caselaw.

Comment: Issue was whether there were NEW ones. (Score 2) 376

by Ungrounded Lightning (#48154393) Attached to: Pentagon Reportedly Hushed Up Chemical Weapons Finds In Iraq

As I understand it (in hindsight):

- Saddam was supposed to stop his production of new WMDs and estroy the old stuff.
  - He apparently complied, at least with stopping new production. (His guys - maybe at his orders, maybe on their own - apparently hid some of the key components of the nuclear program so it could potentially be restarted at some later date without starting from zero.)
  - But a lot of the old stuff was still around.
  - Meanwhile, he had enemies all around, and one of the deterrents was that they thought he had all this nasty weaponry.
  - So to keep them at bay, he made it look to his neighbors like he really was posturing about stopping and destroying, while still having much and making more. ("I got rid of all that stuff." Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.) As a "good client dictator" he counted on the US diplomatic and intelligence communities to know that he really did it, was tellnig the truth to us, and putting on a show for his neighbors.
  - Unfortunately for him, the show he put on for his neighbors convinced the US that he still had and was still making. Oops!
  - Meanwhile, his neighbors planted stories, disguised as intelligence reports, about his continuation. (One such that hit the press was the forged documents for the "yellowcake" uranium ore purchase. The guy who fabricated it bragged about it after the war.)
  - So the US decided he'd gone (too) rogue and had to be taken out.
  - The US went in looking for the NEW stuff and the CURRENT production and research. Oops! Didn't find it. Found a bunch of old stuff, but that didn't support the argument for going to war. Either it didn't exist (and the US had done a BIG boo-boo) or it was just well enough hidden that it hadn't been found yet.
  - So it was politically expedient for the administration to not mention the old stuff while they kept looking for the new stuff they still believed was there.
  - It was also politically expedient for the opposition to crow about not finding the stuff that was the reason for the war. The old stuff weakened the message, so they didn't mention it.
  - Most of the mainstream press was solidly in the opposition's pocket. So they didn't mention the old stuff, either. This made any reports of it from the remainder of the press look like a pro-administration fabrication.

Thus, if you weren't watching many sources and making really good estimates of what was correct, important, fluff, and/or fabrications, you either didn't hear about the old weaponry or thought such stories were disinformation, and came away with the idea that there wasn't any WMD material to be had in Iraq

Comment: Bunch of stuff... (Score 1) 395

Logically you do not charge electric vehicles at a "commercial vehicle charging station" but at any regularly used parking point via induction charging.

Or you can do both. Going to all/most-cars-are-electric with older battery technology requires multiplying the grid capacity by about a factor of six. Fast charge capability improves on that drastically - for several reasons I'll get to below - but it still involves trippling it or so. As long as you're building it out to feed cars, you might as well build it out selectively, to both good "gas station" sites and to likely sites for charging while parked.

With fast-charging batteries you can ALSO put some charging coils under major roadways to charge them as they drive. (You wouldn't have to electrify the WHOLE roadway, just chunks of it. And you can have the utility handshake with the car's electronics to collect for the power - or refuse to supply it if it's unwanted or payment won't be forthcoming.)

Not all parking spaces and roads are worth electrifying, and people also need service when traveling. So IMHO, with fast enough charging to make it practical, there will still be quite a demand for electrified "gas stations" to fast-charge those cars that didn't have enough opportunity to slow-charge.

Fast charging at home, though would be problematic: You'd have to drastically increase your service, and the infrastructure behind it. There are a LOT of homes, and in some cases a lot of distance to run bigger wires and a lot of transformers to upsize. Building out "filling stations" for fast charging, or doing that first, lets the utilities concentrate their investment. Fast charge at an electric "gas" station while waiting for your neighborhood's turn for upgrade (or just avoiding paying for one) makes considerable sense.

Fast charging enables a substantial mileage improvement, too, especially in stop-and-go traffic or on hilly terrain. It HAS to be very efficient (because any substantial losses would fry the battery). With it being both efficient and fast, you can use it for braking, even rapid braking, and scavenge most of the energy that would otherwise be lost as heat. Current vehicles can recapture a little of the braking energy - if you stop slowly. Fast-charge batteries can get MOST of it - and then recycle it for restarting, or just cruising against wind resistance and friction once you're off the mountain. ... mega battery factories are so financially risky at this time, real battery breakthroughs are coming down the line, that will change everything.

Maybe not so much: As TFA points out, THIS one is pretty much a cheap drop-in, and the resulting battery is so good that it makes the quantitative leap in to the practical. Lithium is really light. So this battery might be so close to optimum that it will be hard to make big enough additional breakthroughs to displace it if it takes market share now and does its own incremental improvements later. Meanwhile, the perfect is the enemy of the adequate. This looks good enough that it's time to adopt it. So "the future" might finally be here.

Not just used in cars of course but also to be used in residential properties to really drive renewable energy sources and people in the burbs being able to escape the grid ...

Right on! Raw generation with solar photovoltaic in sunny locations is already cheaper than grid power. Windmills in windy areas have beaten the pants off it for a long time and in moderaty windy areas has done the same since strong rare-earth magnets became available at reasonable prices. The control electronics participates in the Moore's Law effect and its price will drop even faster, due to economies of scale, if deployments become common. The big rub has alwayd been storage.

High efficiency, high capacity, high charge/discharge rate, many cycle, long calendar life batteries, made of inexpensive, common, non-toxic materials, built in high quantity under substantial price pressure for automotive applications, would fill in the last hole. Further, the capacity appropriate for a car is happens to be great for a house as well. They're a major game changer for yet another game.

Further, if lots of houses go to renewable, they'll have periods where the winds have been calm and/or the sky dark where there isn't enough energy available to charge the car AND avoid a blackout at the house. That's a good time to charge the car at the electric "gas" station. But for that to work the stations must exist.

Comment: Re:Fewer candidates to draw from... (Score 1) 578

by cpt kangarooski (#48146939) Attached to: FBI Says It Will Hire No One Who Lies About Illegal Downloading

You just spent a good deal of time stating digital files are different then hard copies like books.

Digital files are just intangible information; what we'd call a work. A book, as a material object in which a work can be fixed, is no different than a hard drive. And btw, most, if not all written languages are digitial. There's no letter that's halfway in between an A and a B.

Copyright does already deal with digital files under the sections of computer programs which also covers data.

Not really.

The only significant special treatment of computer programs in the Act that might be useful here is the exception at 17 USC 117. The Act defines "computer programs" as a set of statements or instructions to be used directly or indirectly in a computer in order to bring about a certain result. I think it would be quite a stretch to apply that to absolutely any sort of data on a computer, as opposed to actual executables and such.

But even if we accepted that, it still isn't helpful. 117 allows the owner of a copy to make additional copies or adaptations, only if they're essential for using them, or as backups. And the backups cannot be transferred without transferring the ownership of the original, and cannot be kept in the event of a transfer.

So I don't see how it would help protect you if you decided to host mp3 files for people to download, in an infringing manner. Perhaps you'd like to explain your plan?

Life. Don't talk to me about life. - Marvin the Paranoid Anroid