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Comment Who will be in control? (Score 5, Insightful) 183

The story summary wrongly gives the impression that the US is forever interfering in ICANN's affairs. This is simply not true: while it does retain an oversight function, it has never used that to interfere in ICANN's operational matters. It does have ultimate oversight authority, and so is in theory the final recourse if ICANN should go off the rails. The question is, if the US gives that up, who gets the final say?

ICANN is a body that has power that Slashdotters should care about. It writes rules into the contracts it has with top level domain Registries, rules that individual domain registrants must obey. Mostly these rules are technical not policy, but that is changing. ICANN has long required domain registrants to submit to ICANN's Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy, which allows trademark owners to claim domains that are said to infringe their trademarks, even though the UDRP does not provide all the defences to trademark that ordinary law offers.

The UDRP is pretty much a settled part of ICANN's scope. But there are plenty of other interests (copyright owners, child protection campaigns, law enforcement groups from around the world) that would like ICANN to impose the rules they prefer on domain registrants too. And they're actively lobbying ICANN right now, have been for years.

Under US oversight, there was a principled commitment to the openness of the Internet, and the possibility of an ultimate recourse to Congress if these lobbyists capture ICANN. When that oversight disappears, it will be crucial to have enshrined in ICANN's constitution effective and enforceable means to constrain ICANN from scope creep. Arguments about that are what is delaying the removal of US oversight, with intellectual property lawyers and foreign governments fighting hard to give ICANN a broad Mission that allows it to implement their demands.

Comment Look after your parents, they looked after you (Score 1) 193

Giving birth to you entitles your mother to lifetime tech support. That's just the way it is.

Feel free to guide them to a Mac or an iPad or a chrome book, or whatever both meets their needs and lessens this burden. But you need to be there for the if they need you, on this and other things too.

Comment Factual record (Score 1) 193

This should depend greatly on the factual record.

Surely it should be possible that a company arranges for people to get rides from private persons. Any other ruling from the Court would be dreadful. Whether Uber is really just helping people to find a driver (or a rider), or whether it is really holding itself out as a taxi service is another matter. Similarly, it is possible that Uber could use truly independent contractors; whether Uber's current arrangements with its drivers qualifies as an employment relationship is a separate question.

What we need from the Court is a clear explanation of what will distinguish an information service helping people to find each other from a taxi service. Then the lower court should apply those rules to Uber - and if Uber doesn't like the outcome, it will be free to alter itself so as to stay on the non-a-taxi-company side of the rules, just as it can alter its agreement with its drivers so as to avoid creating an employment relationship.

Comment Not yet (Score 2) 156

Despite advances, these figures show that FPS in 4K is still not ready for prime-time even on top-class cards.

When there are cards that can handle it, I'll think about upgrading my 1920x1200 monitor. Until then, I'll wait it out, and so can my aging graphics card.

Part of the problem is that at higher resolutions it becomes more important to use high graphics settings (high res textures, better lighting effects, further draw distance), not less. So if you're interested in 4K gaming, you'll want to do it with everything turned up to 11. The exception to this rule is anti-aliasing, which decreases in value the higher the resolution.

Comment TV shows, a TV broadcast, or watching on a TV set? (Score 1) 244

Over the last ten years, time watching

Live TV broadcast: Decreased significantly, from a couple of hours a night to the News plus nothing else
TV shows I recorded from live: First up, then down. From occasional, through a couple of hours a night (PVR era) to zero (streaming catch-up TV era)
TV shows supplied as recorded: Increased significantly thanks to fibre broadband and more online sources
Movies on my TV: Decreased significantly, due to drop in quality of movies, increase in quality of scripted TV
Movies in cinema: From occasional to near-zero
Time spent in watching TV shows on monitor within three feet of my face: the same (zero) at home; but TV-show-on-iPad has entirely replaced back-of-airline-seat-movie and hotel-room-TV/movies

Overall time spent in front of my large-screen TV set watching moving images: slight decrease, mainly displaced by increased reading since buying a Kindle.

Comment Brand un-value (Score 5, Insightful) 171

I am loath to join the general chorus of hate for Ubisoft and EA. Complaining about these companies being too focussed on commercial success and not enough of user-entertainment/"art" seems futile: they are, first and foremost, commercial companies.

Nonetheless, considering it strictly as a commercial proposition, should the senior executives of these companies not be worried that their brand has negative value?

When I see news of a game, knowing that it is going to be published by Ubisoft - or, to a lesser extent, by EA, makes me shy away. I am less likely to buy. I am less likely to follow the hype, for fear of being sucked in by it, because I expect to be disappointed. I am less likely to engage with their product or marketing in any way, because of the poor track record that they have establish, the negative brand value that they have created.

If they bought a small publishers, and published the very same game through that new label, I would be more likely to engage with and buy their product for that reason - as long as I was not aware that Ubisoft (or EA) lay behind it. Knowing that they are there, I expect to be disappointed.. That's negative brand value in action.

This is not just a gamer whinge. I would think that was a customer reaction that ought to concern senior commercial management, and shareholders in these companies.

Comment Just insurance (Score 1) 301

If the driver needs to be able to step in at any moment, it's not a fully autonomous car in any meaningful sense, it's just a tech demo.

The only point of a fully autonomous car is so you don't have to drive it. This means (i) being able to concentrate on stuff other than the road, like a book, a movie, or being asleep and (ii) if you're not going to be driving it anyway, why bother acquiring the skill to do so, and the certification to prove you can? Hence, just insurance.

I really can't see the point in buying a car whose defining feature is that it can drive itself, and having to be on stand-by status to take over at any given instant. If that's what we're offered, I would say that whatever Google is capable of cooking up, we're not actually being offered a fully autonomous vehicle.

Comment The ones under my mattress are safe (Score 2) 192

Nothing I have heard has suggested any basic flaw in the cryptocurrency concept, or even the protocol design or software implementation for Bitcoin itself. The failure of some Bitcoin exchanges bears no more relation to the viability of Bitcoin than the failure of a bank would to the viability of a national currency (arguably even less, at least for proponents of the theory that fiat currency is inherently unstable).

Banks sometimes fail. Bitcoin exchanges, being immature businesses with little experience of implementing technical security or financial risk management, will fail more frequently. The wise will spread their risk between different stores of value, so as not to be exposed to any particular institutional failure. This could well include keeping your own wallet, in a USB stick under the mattress.

Comment Maybe not so great (Score 1) 97

There's an interesting analysis from copyright lawyer Innocenzo Genna that suggests this may not be such good news for the Internet as it seems at first glance.

The copyright-controlled activity that was under discussion was "communicating a copyright work to the public". The court decided that hyperlinking was communicating the work to the public, but ruled that it was still permitted by way of exception, because the work has already been communicated to the same public. According to Genna, this still brings hyperlinking within the sphere of copyright law, which is dangerous for the future. It would have been much better if the court had decided that linking is not "communicating the work", but just pointing to somewhere else where the work is communicated; this would have left much less scope for more restrictive rulings in other hyperlinking cases.

Comment Problems with .uk (Score 4, Informative) 110

Part of the problem was one of precedence: many holders of domains under, and several other existing subdomains were happy with the idea of getting a shorter domain - but very unhappy with the thought that they might lose it to a competing domain owner with the same name in a different sub-domain - or even to a trademark holder with no exact equivalent at the moment.

Another part of the problem was Nominet's proposal for "security". In the name of building "trust and confidence in .uk" Nominet had proposed to extend itself from traditional registry options to scanning websites for malware, and using its power to suspend domains to enforce clean-up. Not surprisingly, this was controversial.

Note also that Nominet has said it might come back with some variant of these proposals later, perhaps extending its "security" scheme to all the existing .uk domains.

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