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Comment: Re:Slashdot Effect (Score 1) 100

by meustrus (#48199299) Attached to: Overwhelmed By Recall For Deadly Airbags

Web hosting is still sold much the same way as over 10 years ago: multiple clients sharing a host, or a dedicated server for much more. Now we have virtual servers too, which have a lot of access and security benefits but are ultimately the same as the first option for load balancing. And if you want anything more, get multiple dedicated servers and a dedicated sysadmin. It's an awful lot of money for the mere possibility of way more web traffic than you've ever imagined would visit at once (note: your statement was broadly directed at all web sites, not just the government, so I'm broadly directing at all web sites too).

Technology gets better all the time, but economics still mostly stay the same.

Comment: Re: google is a search engine (Score 1) 150

by meustrus (#48199173) Attached to: Google Changes 'To Fight Piracy' By Highlighting Legal Sites

Same reasoning behind doing things like removing ext3 support in chrome.

Why would a web browser have ext3 support in the first place? Are you one of those people that like to make everything confusing by dropping random words from otherwise meaningful statements? Like "Free as in [Free] Beer"? Um, does that mean freedom because beer is liberating? Well, don't "let the cat out [of the bag]" on that one. It might bring home a mouse. Anyway, maybe I shouldn't "judge a book [by its cover]". As in, never judge a book, ever, for any reason, because clearly your English is better than mine. Why, I could hire you to write my Slashdot comments for me and "kill two birds [with one stone]". Not sure what I would do with the two birds, but then I could at least be an asshole on the internet without ever needing to read what the other assholes have to say.

Anyway, as we all know, once you go Boolean, you never go back. Amen brotha.

Comment: Re:google is a search engine (Score 1) 150

by meustrus (#48199031) Attached to: Google Changes 'To Fight Piracy' By Highlighting Legal Sites

Who gets to decide what is "better for society"?

Society does.

This. Notice my "scare quotes" around "better for society". mattack2 has hit on the head exactly what I would have said if it wouldn't have distracted from my point. There's no way to perfectly determine what is best for society, but we do have mostly-good-most-of-the-time ways.

Comment: Re:google is a search engine (Score 1) 150

by meustrus (#48198979) Attached to: Google Changes 'To Fight Piracy' By Highlighting Legal Sites

Notice the air quotes around "better for society". I would rather avoid discussing whether that's true, because that discussion is happening elsewhere.

What I want is a a "truly agnostic search engine". That would mean nobody can mess with the search results, not by law and not by hacking. Perhaps I didn't make this clear, but I don't expect Google will ever be that again.

I feel like musing a bit on what would satisfy this desire. There are a few problems with search results: 1) They lack context; 2) They are easily manipulated; 3) They aren't good at translating what we say we want into what we think we want. These three problems are usually alleviated in society by human minds being context-driven and by getting multiple opinions from multiple sources. The natural solution would seem to be for the "search engine" to engage us not with a simple text box, but in some sort of conversation. The search engine would then consult a network of other search engines and try to deliver what looks like the best result. What's the best result? Depends on the conversation, the context, and the value of the results.

All three of those things seem to be beyond the grasp of Google. For one, the closest you'll get to a conversation is its asinine suggestions that are based on what query the other meatbags thought would get Google to spit out the right result, and is just as likely to include pop culture references as whatever you are actually looking for. For two, Google may warn you when a link has been paid for, but otherwise it provides no context about where that page came from, what other things it's good for, what perspective informs it, and how credible it probably is (which is a shame, because I'm pretty certain Google does usually know these things). And for three, while Google might know certain measures of value (but won't tell you because it it doesn't provide context), it has no idea exactly which measure you're interested in right now.

Say you look up the term "global warming". Are you interested in an objective history of the concept? Are you looking for pure data and research? Are you looking for the politics surrounding it? Are you looking for a place to start a fight? Are you looking to join a community of people who think like you on the issue? Knowing how to get what you want means knowing the measures of value yourself. Maybe you know by now that Wikipedia is the most likely place to find objectivity. It usually takes a college education to know where to find (and how to read) good scholarly material. Politics is even trickier: since every author has a viewpoint (and Google either has no viewpoint, an SEO-hacker biased viewpoint, or your viewpoint, and it won't tell you which), the only way you can get an unbiased view is to somehow survey all viewpoints and figure out for yourself how they fit together and which are most common. Community is even harder. How is Google supposed to know the best places to troll? If you're lucky you'll find a laser-targeted clickbait titled "Top 11 Places to Troll Global Warming Believers/Deniers". Even worse, how is Google supposed to know if you will like any particular community? It's easier to find places ripe for conflict than places you'll actually fit into.

Web search is a hard problem. Google took a shortcut that got us most of the way there: they take the entire internet and filter the results according to your query, then they order them by a search ranking determined by how many other web sites link to that web site. In essence, Google's shortcut to human-like social intelligence is to crowd-source the intelligence to actual humans. Because those humans have motivations other than helping Google, that leaves Google vulnerable to manipulation. Ever since Google became the de facto standard of finding shit on the internet, they've been contending with that manipulation every day. It works...usually. Or at least sometimes. At least it's better than not having Google. But nobody out there has yet figured out how to do provide web search without relying on human beings for search rankings.

I'd like to think a search engine that provides meaningful context, is not easily manipulated, and actually understands what I want would be good for society. Mainly because I have faith that free and effective spreading of information is good for society. What we have now is a biased and ineffective means of spreading information, so without my ideals to fall back upon determining what is or is not "good for society" is much muckier and more complicated.

Comment: Re:Probably the wrong way to fight it anyway (Score 1) 50

Truly sorry about that, but I don't see how patent reform would solve your problem. The way I see it, your problem is that they "withdrew the original from the market". Not that they invented a slightly different version. They may have done it because it enabled them to charge more for the newer drug sold for the same purpose, but you can't force a company to make what you want. Without the original patent, they may not have ever been able to sell either drug anyway.

Drug combinations are a strange beast that probably should not be patentable the same way as the individual compounds. Personally I prefer to buy the individuals and combine them myself. It certainly helps when I have a cough and sinus swelling, but not a runny nose or a fever or any sort of pain, so I really don't want to be taking an antihistamine or a pain killer in some all-in-one. It also helps to avoid phenylephrine, the "fake" sudafed that doesn't work but can't be used to make meth so it's easier to sell. They put that shit in everything. Anyway, I really hope that the "something else" in your preferred drug is available on its own.

Comment: Re:Probably the wrong way to fight it anyway (Score 1) 50

Combining A+B and C may not be easy, but it is obvious. This is actually the main problem I see with software patents: idea C is "with a computer", and A+B is some existing invention. Newspapers - on a computer! Alarm clocks - on a computer! Bank transactions - on a computer! Sure it was hard to program them. It's still obvious. But if securing the bank transactions requires new innovations in security technology to glue the pieces together, those innovations could merit patent D. Does not and should not prevent anybody else from making their own secure bank transactions with a different security method because somebody got an A+B+C patent covering the obvious part.

Really not understanding your point about pharmaceuticals. How is the benzene ring different from "including a library or function in a program [which] should have an absolutely predictable result"? I do agree though that pharmaceuticals are a bit different than other patent issues, but for a different reason: selling a drug requires round after round of expensive clinical trials because of the FDA. Without exclusivity, there may not be enough incentive for drug companies to pay for those trials if a generic manufacturer can reverse engineer the same drug and sell it on the cheap without paying for the trials. Maybe the FDA should have its own special exclusivity granting system so we can peel off one of the complications of patent law.

Comment: Re:google is a search engine (Score 5, Insightful) 150

by meustrus (#48187015) Attached to: Google Changes 'To Fight Piracy' By Highlighting Legal Sites

Google is not an agnostic search system. Google is the king of search, and everyone is trying to hack around their algorithms to boost their search rankings. Is it really so terrible that Google itself should be outright asked to prefer search results that are "better for society"?

Don't get me wrong. I want a truly agnostic search engine. Badly. I want to be able to find the best source for what I'm looking for, not a couple dozen support forums with great SEO and an actual honest-to-goodness answer buried on page 47 of the search results. Google used to be the closest we could get to that, but that was a long time ago. Now they're basically a public utility, much like the internet itself. Although since so many people are stealing from it and its customers, I'd say it's more like cable TV.

Comment: Translations (Score 1) 194

by meustrus (#48186953) Attached to: Favorite clickbait hook?

This one weird trick

Translation: Hey you, I know you are lazy and never want to work for anything! Let me tell you how to get rich quick without getting your lazy ass off the couch!

You'll never believe what...

Translation: You'll never believe it. No, really. You will click on this link thinking to find something amazing, but unless you're exceedingly gullible, you will dismiss it as untrue. Wait, scratch that. If you clicked on this link, you probably are exceedingly gullible.

What doctors don't want you to know!

Translation: Do you distrust authority figures? Are you really, really cynical? Think that every doctor/teacher/whatever is so selfish and corrupt that they would suppress knowledge just so they can keep making money the way they are now? I've got a nice bridge in Brooklyn to sell you...

Your jaw will drop / head will explode ... (also: What happened next will amaze you ... )

Translation: Are you so hopelessly bored that you will literally click on anything that promises amusement?

Sexy something! Sexy someone!

Translation: Someone's life is more exciting and salacious than yours! Let's collectively shame them for making us feel boring! Also, dick jokes!

Missing options:

7 Things That You Might Like

Translation: You'll like at least one of these things. Maybe.

I've finally figured out how to do the impossible! Watch this YouTube video on how I did it!

Translation: There's a 99% chance I'm rick-rolling you, but you don't care as long as there's a 1% chance I'm not.

You just won our sweepstakes! Click here to claim your prize!

Translation: You're a gullible grandma/pre-teen who doesn't know much about the internet, right? Let me slip the wool over your naïve eyes for a moment...

Your computer could be at risk!

Translation: ...if you click on this ad!

Favorite clickbait hook?

Translation: Your opinion is important! Click on me and share it with other like-minded Slashdotters!

Comment: tl;dr (Score 1) 716

by meustrus (#48186765) Attached to: Why the Trolls Will Always Win

I read through my above post and have decided to shorten and revise it. It really is too long and despite my efforts at the time still went on a couple of unrelated tangents. I know this is still long, but at least it is better organized. So, for the tl;dr crowd:

Why does it seem that the first response to these kinds of problems is always legal? To sue someone? Is it just because that's what is expedient to existing victims? Because it won't help future potential victims. Even changing the law or boosting enforcement won't get at the root cause.

The fact is that sadly, sociopathic behavior like this is socially acceptable. Every time a woman speaks up, half of the crowd chimes in to defend the sociopath. "It was her own fault", you say. "Women are such whiners; this happens to everyone", you say. And let's be clear: there's a point to be made that women are perhaps too often thin-skinned. But often this point is made regardless to the sexist nature (rape threats) or severity of the harassment (total destruction of career, made to feel unsafe and insecure even in her own home or the home of her family, made to fear for the safety of that family). And most of the people making this point, especially in a place like Slashdot that allows people to post anonymously, make their point with misogynistic slurs. It's only understandable that this position is almost always attacked as "blaming the victim" when there are only a couple of rational voices in the mob.

When you strip away the fact that women are the most common victims, you are left with the uncontroversial problem: sociopaths. Even when they aren't attacking you personally, their assaults harm society and by extension harm you. Every time a Kathy Sierra is harassed out of her comfort zone, we lose another intelligent perspective. We lose the voice behind And to all you lonely nerds out there: we lose one more woman that understands and appreciates what you do. One more woman that might have shared your dreams and obsessions.

How can the law help us? Will it stop people from being sociopaths? Not any more than drunk driving laws made people stop driving drunk. Drunk driving used to be just as socially acceptable as wife beating and criminal harassment. What changed? MADD and systematic messaging from law enforcement and driver's education told entire generations of new drivers that it is not acceptable. Now drunk driving is the sort of thing only completely irresponsible people do, right? While that doesn't mean nobody does it, it does mean nobody defends the behavior. We need a single message to spread to every single child regarding harassment: this is not OK.

Stopping sociopaths and the harassment they inflict means we have to focus on their actions, not the possible failings of their victims. The victim has already been through enough and doesn't need you to tell them to toughen up. You don't even have to personally believe the victim! Attack the crime, even if you don't believe it happened. You might say, "Harassment is wrong, and I am appalled to think this kind of thing even happens." You might say, "I actually have trouble believing the story because it's so unthinkable that someone could be this much of a sociopath." You might say, "I thought this sort of thing never happened, and it certainly never should." Casting doubt on the victim doesn't help anybody. It just makes you the kind of asshole that future victims are afraid will attack their credibility if they seek help. And if they're lying, let that come out at trial; our public discussion cannot come nearly as close to justice for the specific people involved. All we can do is try to prevent this sort of thing from happening in the future by making clear that it is unacceptable.

Changing the law is a nice idea, but people tend to be pretty resentful of laws that don't match their personal beliefs. That's why the above is so important. You will never get people to report harassment and support victims just by passing laws. This is where we are with workplace sexual harassment: laws were passed giving a lot of power to the victims, but they can still be stigmatized and blacklisted in their profession for using those laws because their peers still think that harassment is OK.

Don't go straight for the law books. Go into the community and change public opinion. It's the only way we can truly marginalize and prevent sociopathic behavior like this.

Comment: Probably the wrong way to fight it anyway (Score 4, Interesting) 50

The anti-troll measures described in TFA don't sounds to me like they would be particularly effective for most cases. Patent trolls seek out people for whom legal representation is likely to cost as much as a settlement, since those people don't have lawyers on staff and patents are a complicated and specialized field. What the measures would do is provide more opportunities for a lawyer to contest the patent letter. Since the typical targets tend to settle solely to avoid having to pay a lawyer, this will not help. What needs to happen instead is a mandatory notification in the demand letter of certain pieces of evidence which will automatically avoid patent fees if produced. I'm talking known prior art or existing license agreements, as well as other categories of potentially more complicated evidence to be created. Patent trolls thrive on the over-complication in the law, so the solution to them is to create short circuits to their lawsuits that protect 80% of the innocent without retaining a lawyer.

Comment: Re:Not another scam! Right on! (Score 1) 564

by meustrus (#48177989) Attached to: Lockheed Claims Breakthrough On Fusion Energy Project
And before someone mentions any specific reserve that isn't being drilled for "political or environmental reasons", keep in mind there are "plenty" of them. Any individual reserve won't hold very much oil in the grand scheme of things, but in many areas drilling would prove disastrous to the local environment. Not even "vague threat of global warming" disastrous - "permanent destruction of beautiful landscapes and sole remaining habitats for endangered species" disastrous. This does not apply to all unexplored reserves (especially most offshore); with so many options it's important to know exactly how much oil you'd actually get for the destruction of those few.

Whenever a system becomes completely defined, some damn fool discovers something which either abolishes the system or expands it beyond recognition.