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Comment Re:Life Liberty and Really? (Score 1) 459

They aren't changing anything. They are quoting from John Locke, not the Declaration of Independence (which changed Locke's quote from property to pursuit of happiness).

Came here to say this. Locke's philosophical ideas likely contributed a lot to how the founding fathers approached rights and freedoms when setting up the country.

Comment Comp Sci requires good Math skills (Score 2) 317

That's what introductory classes are for. De-mystify software and give children the basic concepts and skills to pursue it, and an opportunity to see if it interests them.

Completely agree. Computer science is not out of reach of most students, but it has to be introduced in proper context.

I think what many people are missing in this "teach compsci!" movement is that a firm understanding of computer science requires a very solid basis in logic and abstract mathematics. Guess what we don't teach in high school? (as far as I know; it wasn't part of my school, and I never see it mentioned in anything I've read about common core, etc.): Basic propositional logic and symbolic logic. Number theory and discrete mathematics. Abstract algebra!! Abstract algebra, at least the basics of groups, is not difficult and out of reach -- we should totally be teaching high schoolers about groups, which awakens the ability to abstract and see patterns, which is fundamentally what programming (and really all of comp sci) is all about.

I'm not as concerned about making compsci part of the high school curriculum as much as making real mathematics part of the curriculum. With a solid foundation in basic logic and mathematics, you open up the ability to pick up pretty much any technical book, and read it and understand it. You can go anywhere with that foundation -- computer science, but also engineering, physics, etc.

Comment Re:It's a trap! (Score 2) 141

Yes, I think it is. So developers contribute to this "almost the same" Chakra engine, but Microsoft profits for it by using it in W10 and Edge, cause last time I checked those products weren't free.

Indeed, notice the project is called ChakraCore (my emphasis). They open source the core and let people contribute, crowdsourcing the "easy" work while they put their developers on the proprietary add ons outside the core. So they get free work on easy stuff, but the community does not get the proprietary stuff they tack on. It's quite a scam.

MS would likely not release anything GPL or they'd have to open it all up to the public, but this is an example why any free software developers out there should use GPL for their own work. If it is MIT/BSD, companies can pull things like this.

Comment BSD allows freedom to screw you over (Score 1) 208

Generations of older idiots do not realize, that corporations are shafting you and laughing all the way to the bank based on *your* hardwork, and you just accept it. There is nothing wrong or shameful about asking for higher compensation, and joining a union to strength your demands by putting workers and executives on an even playing field, and all efforts to "fight" it are misguided and destructive.


Look, I don't mean to be rude in the above statement, but it really irritates me when people refer to younger generations as idiots, just because we have a different philosophy than you do.

In my view, BSD allows corporations to fork the code and never contribute back. They can essentially take everyone's hard work, say "So long and thanks for all the fish", and package up a proprietary version of it and sell it for oodles of money. They don't owe you a thing. They don't owe the open source project a thing. Just because some of them currently do contribute code/effort doesn't mean they will indefinitely. Once they have obtained what they want, what incentive do they have to keep working with the community?

The GPL, meanwhile, protects your hardwork. If you write free software (in RMS's terms; or open source if you prefer), you can still build a community around it and have anyone contribute, including corporations. You can use it for whatever you want, including commercial software (i.e., you can sell software that is GPL, that's not against the license). HOWEVER, there is one important exception: any changes/add-ons MUST be available under GPL license for others. While you can sell GPL software, you can't make it solely proprietary, ever. I look at it as demanding compensation -- if you worked hard (for free in most cases) to develop some open source library, and a corporation takes it to use in some product they sell, why should they solely profit off your work? Requiring them to give back to you and community -- so you can turn around and sell too if you wish -- keeps an even playing field. Everyone contributed so everyone gets it. No one can unilaterally decide they're done contributing back; it's a requirement of the license.

Imagine being the author of a library that becomes used in OS X, and then Apple says "Sorry, that's proprietary, you can't reverse engineer our code" -- they took your code, the code you wrote 99% of, and effectively removed your freedom to use your own library just because they made a few changes and reissued under a new license. BSD allows this; GPL doesn't.

The only thing GPL really requires is that changes also be released GPL, so everyone can use it. Otherwise, it's the same as BSD. How is that taking away freedom? You can do anything you want with GPL, including launch a commercial company and sell it, EXCEPT screw people over by taking your ball and going home. Does it not occur to you as being a little suspicious that corporations, after years working with GPL software, are starting to turn to BSD in some cases? You use it as an example of GPL's "failure", but I see it as an impending crisis among BSD software, where in a few years corporations will fork and close these libraries and leave BSD'd software to decay. Remember that old "extend-embrace-extinguish" memo? Did you not learn from history? BSD can't prevent that, but GPL can because of its viral nature.

Now if you really think corporations getting to take your code for proprietary stuff is important, then by all means pick BSD. I'm not going to sit here and tell you what to do with your own hard work. It's a free country. But stop spreading such lies about the GPL. The GPL protects your freedom by preventing others from taking away your freedom.

Comment Qt's QML (Score 1) 225

But no one is trying to address the fact that HTML's layout system is designed for documents... Not for GUIs. We really need something like XUL or XAML made in to a web standard.

I have daydreamed a bit about using Qt's QML as a way of transferring GUI information/design for websites, rather than HTML documents. If you're not familiar, QML is a Javascript-syntax (superset?) markup for declarative programming of GUIs, and Qt5 and KDE's Plasma 5 use it extensively. It's Javascript origins mean most people are already familiar with it, and could potentially repurpose/extend existing javascript engines for it rather than throwing it all out. I haven't done major projects with it, but I am a fan of KDE so I'm pretty convinced its powerful enough for general purpose web apps.

That being said...

That said JavaScript is garbage just like HTML and CSS for actual development and needs to be replaced with a sane language.

Javascript is not a great language so there's slight concern of any language based on javascript. But, maybe part of why javascript sucks so much is that HTML and CSS are not really designed to work together with it. A new language/engine designed to work with it, like Qt QML is, might be fine.

Comment Not the best examples (Score 4, Insightful) 428

The boiled frogs weren't paying attention — that's how. Smooth-talking lawmakers were introducing these "common sense" laws, while the objections from the disheveled principled ones were dismissed as "extreme" and "partisan".

Or, you can cause a lot more damage to people and property with a motorvehicle compared to a bike or a horse, so it needed to be more regulated. People involved in car accidents likely appreciate the fact that cars are registered; remember the license plate and tell the authorities, even if they drive off, and we know who's responsible.

I imagine that trains and planes have more regulation for similar reasons; as we now know, you could potentially cause a plane to crash into a building, for example. A train derailed can hurt lots of people and destroy lots of cargo. There's large responsibility again, so we do extra checks. If something goes wrong, we now have a shortlist of people to investigate.

Not saying the system is perfect. I worry about the surveillance state too, and am not a fan of the TSA's decisions lately. But we must acknowledge that the current system evolved for reasons (like safety and responsibility) that need to be carefully balanced with our liberties. Don't "throw the baby out with the bathwater" as they say. But definitely voice concerns to your congresscritters, and keep it in mind in upcoming elections.

The official right to keep and bear arms is another — and even more painful — example. You don't need a Wikipedia article — it is right there in the Bill of Rights. And yet, even the most liberal parts of the country consider it a mere privilege...

Let me quote the 2nd Amendment for you:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Note that phrase "well regulated" in the actual literal text of the Bill of Rights. Very very few people say that all guns should be taken away; instead, the argument is that we should actually follow the constitution and regulate guns. This probably includes at a minimum some mandatory training in proper usage and storage of guns and related equipment (note that "regulated" in this context was decided by the Supreme Court to mean "training"), as well as proper background checks (which effectively is a check that a person has the appropriate training and discipline, and hasn't violated such discipline and laws in the past). The free-for-all we currently have, particularly in the form of gun show loopholes, is the opposite of "well regulated" and should be fixed.

People tend to forget the first half of the 2nd Amendment about the regulated militia, but it is important.

Also, I dislike the generalizations and use of the word "liberal" as if its always a negative thing. It is fine to say you have a disagreement with a stance, but let's please not demonize groups of people and pretend that we aren't what we are -- a country with a diverse set of beliefs that really isn't easily categorized.

As an aside, If you want your freedoms and the constitution respected more, vote for Bernie Sanders. He has said no to surveillance state, no to perpetual war, no to corporate control of the economy and elections, and coming from a small state, he is very moderate on gun regulation. Let's all agree to stop voting for the typical establishment candidates and vote for candidates like Bernie if we want to see real results.

Comment Over-Generalized (Score 4, Insightful) 150

The real threat here is Millennials. They're an entire generation of people who've deluded themselves into believing that they stand for freedom and openness, yet in practice they're actually among the most virulent perpetrators of censorship and the suppression of free expression.

If you express an opinion that they dislike, they don't engage in discussion. They just shut you down, typically using a system that's without any sort of an appeal process, or due process of any sort.

Whoa, bit of an over-generalization there, don't you think? If you want to engage in generational blame, I could also easily blame the baby boomers that currently dominate congressional leadership, and feel the need to regulate things they don't understand (and laugh off the fact they don't understand technology, which always irritates me). The internet started free, and deteriorated into spying and other things under the boomers' watch, you know. Many Millennials only recent gained the ability to run for Senate, for example, and most are not even eligible to run for President. The generation hasn't even had an opportunity to contribute to governance much yet, and you already blame them?

Really, the issue is we've gone through a massive cultural shift in the 20ish years since the internet became mainstream. We can talk to people around the world, and learn about cultures and viewpoints we didn't before. We don't need commercial media as much, because my twitter stream shows me real time events in the middle east, for example, and aggregated together, probably much less biased. Just facts. The Internet allows us to seek our own knowledge and not be fully reliant on corporate media. I think what you will see is that a cross-section of people that have used the internet since its early days -- all generations but probably leaning more toward Millennials -- respect this freedom and independence, and want to protect it.

Meanwhile there seems to be a counter-culture that takes the corporate viewpoint a little too seriously -- some young people too but in my anecdotal experience, tends to be older people, I think because they grew up only having corporate media as single source of news -- and these people use the internet as a way to stay attached to people like them. Like-minded viewpoints. I have had the misfortune of stumbling across some of these on a number of social websites; they are groups for hate and fear-mongering. Where a person used to be the weirdo in town, now they can talk to other weirdos and pump themselves up and pretend they are majorities. It is these people that shut down all dissent and disagreeing viewpoints. They want to live in their own bubble; they are "proud conservatives that watch Fox News" for example, and seem to be proud of the fact that they stay in their bubble. I am not a fan of the current Republican candidates, but I still watch their debates because I want to know more about the viewpoints. There are those that refuse to hear anything outside of their viewpoint, and it really weirds me out.

So what we have is a cultural war -- do we see the internet as stay free, open, independent, allowing anyone to become a contributor and not just a bystander? Or do we see the internet as a way of segregating ourselves from other conflicting viewpoints? Really, this came about because of the rapid shift of computers and the internet and really the globalization of the economy. Our culture changed so quickly that I don't think everyone has caught up yet, and there's disagreement about how we should feel about the rapid shift..

If you agree with me, and the internet should stay free and independent, then it is our responsibility to speak up. Government in this country is still the people and laws -- if current representatives don't hear your pleas, start running for office yourself. Doesn't strictly have to be the US congress either; run for state congress, or even county-level or city-council. Mayors and county executives wield a large amount of power but we tend to ignore them. If you aren't willing to try something, then I don't believe you get to have much room to complain about government.

Comment Consider This... (Score 2) 177

I don't know specifics of this project or the religious complaint against it, but consider this:

Some projects may have an environmental or "beauty" impact (what if the top of the mountain has a beautiful view, and the project is about to cut down all the trees in the area and limit access to that view?). This telescope may do something like that. People are upset at losing a natural resource: the beauty of nature in their area. It should be a national park for future generations to enjoy the same view I enjoyed, they might say.

So, they go to complain. But saying "I don't like this because it will ruin my view" will get everyone to laugh at you. "This is the cost of doing business", they tell you, "It's good for the local economy, and science, and whatever else." So they get ignored during the meeting and everyone goes about their business, not including the protestors.

The protestors are frustrated but realize that the US takes freedom of religion very seriously. Suddenly the idea is to call the land sacred and that will get some more legitimate discussion on the topic -- no one wants to be seen as discriminating against a religion. Now, media is covering the loss of environment since you called it sacred. Now, business and project leaders are calling you to make deals. Now, you're included in the process.

So what I pose to you is: is it possible that many of these "mythological" arguments in court are not actually completely sincere beliefs, but rather attempts to not be entirely trampled by the system? That freedom of religion is essentially a court "hack" that puts you on more equal footing?

Comment Re:How much "tax" really? And client alternatives? (Score 1) 418

So, a posix OS GUI client [I use linux] would be needed? Anybody who knows thunderbird and another have any ideas, based on experience with both?

I personally use KMail (and really the whole Kontact suite) under KDE. It's very nice, has a lot of features, pretty slick integration between apps. I actually think I might prefer it better than Thunderbird.

As KDE now uses Qt5, I think it is easier in theory to port to Windows, but I don't know if anyone has done so yet. I'd like to see more of those apps on other OSes, as I feel like options for Windows/Mac are rapidly dwindling. Losing Thunderbird would be a pretty big blow, unless the community can really rise up and take care of it (similar to the founding of Open Document Foundation for LibreOffice). You pretty much have to use some flavor of Linux or BSD if you expect any freedom or privacy these days.

Possibly the proliferation of mobile devices (iOS and Android) has made the ability for alternate desktops like Linux to become more common place possible; more people are used to the idea of "we need to use open protocols so everything interoperates now", whereas not that long ago I felt like the decision was "Everyone uses Windows, why we would ever think of anything else?". That's been at least one positive. So maybe more open desktops will catch on now that it's not as weird.

Comment Mozilla, Focus on Protecting Users (Score 4, Insightful) 418

Mozilla, I have actually donated to you in the past, but I have to admit my faith and continued donations are really starting to waiver lately.

Don't get me wrong; its not because of the Australis and UI changes that many people complain about. I actually enjoy those changes, the cross-platform consistency it brought. That's not the issue.

The issue to me is that I feel like you're slowly abandoning your principles:

  • Incorporation of 3rd party proprietary services such as Pocket and Hello (the calling through Telefonica) seem to give up on principles of open source and control of data
  • Including ads in my new tab window is annoying, and possibly a privacy/security risk depending on where those ads are sourced from (they're not hosted on mozilla servers I'd guess; so do you trust the servers you're pulling from?).
  • Support of the DRM plugins/codecs for video. I know the argument was that you didn't really want to do it but were forced to, but how about principles? What can we do as a movement to try to push for open codecs again? I haven't received email updates on what you're doing to support that.
  • Now, giving up on Thunderbird, which is not just well known and liked, but I think its key selling point is ENCRYPTED PRIVATE email. By necessity, you can't do crypto (encrypted and signed emails) unless its in a mail client. If you want to send a webclient your private key, you're missing the point.

If you need money, tell us how it is. Lay out your plan for the next 3 years (a very specific vision!), estimate a figure of money, and maybe we can crowdsource it to happen. I think people are less likely to donate if they can't get clarity into what the money is used for (I know I'm that way).

I think that plan/vision needs to say more specifics like: we're campaigning against all kinds of ads, especially ones that track you and hurt your privacy; we're abandoning 3rd party proprietary things built in to our browser; we're re-focusing on our needs on your security and privacy. We're going to have the most secure browser on the planet, implementing the following list of protocols and standards, we're researching some new protocols and standards and working with the community on them. We're going 64 bit on Windows to take full advantage of performance and security extensions in modern OSes. We're going to make crypto more easy and transparent, both TLS in the browser, but especially we're going to refocus our efforts on Thunderbird and making your email safe with built in idiot-proof PGP encryption and signing. We're also going to work with web vendors to start implementing their own encryption, meaning when you get a notice from your bank, we expect it to be signed by your bank's encryption key and it all happens automagically to keep you safe.

If I don't start seeing more concrete things like this working for the betterment of the internet and my security and privacy on the internet, then my donation dollars will start looking for other projects. I want to know you're working for me, and not using me only to generate money.

Comment We Already Have A System Like This... (Score 1) 230

... It's called taxes. You pay an amount proportional to your income, plus or minus adjustments based on your personal situation.

Public universities, colleges, tech schools, etc., should be completely free to all citizens, paid for by tax dollars. This is an investment in our citizens and our culture and worth the tax money. Most students on average would pay the money back and then some in taxes over their working lifetimes anyway, so it's a net win. Plus, studies have shown that we could offer free tuition and actually SAVE money from our federal budget compared to the enormous amount of money we dump on banks to prop up the failing student loan "industry".

It's obscene what we're allowing to happen to our young people; starting life with a massive debt really puts a huge roadblock on the path to prosperity and happiness, one that is not easily overcome, even when working hard. My wife had private loans for an average cost university. They make the loans sound so simple, but by the time you graduate you have 8+ loans (at least one for each semester, but possibly more since sometimes a bank is not willing to give a loan for the complete cost of a semester, so you have to get another one from someone else to finish it out) each with a minimum of at least $50 and before you know it, your monthly minimum is a mortgage payment of $600+ a month. So we're effectively requiring students to pay a mortgage right out of school (on top of the real rent/mortgage and cost of living). But then when students ask for higher wages to pay that bill, many of the older generation scoff and call the kids "entitled". If companies and HR want to continue demanding degrees for every position, then they need to pay the cost of doing business and raise wages.

So tuition should be free to everyone, at any time, funded by taxes from individuals and businesses alike. Aside from obvious young adults age 18-22, I think we should encourage anyone of any age to attend college whenever they wish, and push the idea of microdegrees or certifications or badges, or whatever you want to call them. Why shouldn't a 30, 40, 50 year old be able to attend an engineering seminar to brush up on skills? Or a history class for fun (better use of time than sitting in front of the TV!)? We should encourage everyone to pursue life-long learning, not just the fresh-out-of-high-school crowd. We can do that when tuition is free and there is no financial risk to giving it a try and backing out later if demands of life (kids, work, etc.) prove too much that particular semester.

Bernie Sanders has called for tax-funded tuition-free universities. If you want to see this too, chip in a few bucks to his campaign.

Comment Is the operation Authentic? (Score 4, Interesting) 85

Continuing the fine tradition of not RTFA around here, I didn't read the research paper but I did skim wikipedia's entry.

Nowhere do I see any mention of authenticity. This is as important as confidentiality and integrity. I'm not saying there isn't a solution (I'm not a cryptographer) but I wonder if anyone has any insight or links to a solution if it exists.

Here's the scenario. Homomorphic encryption lets us keep the data constantly encrypted, maintaining confidentiality. Ok, that's cool for data breaches, we stay much better protected from loss of confidentiality.

But what if a malicious actor purposely performs an operation on the data? Changing genomic data in this case might mess up diagnoses/research, etc. Future applications could be stuff like medical billing -- if its easy to tack on another bill, even if you don't know previous bills because its encrypted? Is there any mechanism that checks that the operation we perform on the encrypted data was authorized, i.e., that I am a manager allowed to do the operation and I specifically consent to performing the operation? Typical integrity checks wouldn't catch this; integrity is correctness of the data, which means it will only verify the computation was performed correctly and then move on. Authenticity is a different issue.

I would suspect Microsoft Research thought of this. My question is: is there a countermeasure that can be described as part of the algorithm? Or is the countermeasure "be careful with any software that uses this algorithm, make sure it checks authenticity before applying operations!". If the solution is for developers to be careful, I'm not convinced the algorithm made anything better. Many developers do not know cryptography and may assume safety, or may not have the time and resources due to a manager driving a hard deadline; in these cases, "we use MS's algorithm!" can get advertised without any increase in safety (and possibly even a decrease, as some might look to this as a crutch and reason why they can cut corners...).

Comment Taxes are basically a bill (Score 5, Insightful) 674

Wow, where do you get such a negative attitude toward taxes?

Look the best way to look at it is the following: just by existing, you require stuff. Food, clothing, shelter, and then the slightly more luxurious things such as heating your home in winter (unless you use lumber you chopped yourself exclusively), or using internet to leave the comment. Unless you don't use the internet or electricity and don't have a job and feed yourself exclusively through farming, then you use or require something provided by the public.

Oh, but "I pay for my own internet/electricity/whatever", right? Something like $1 of every internet bill I get is a "Universal Access Fee", which gives people in the middle of nowhere access. Why? because business decided that it's not worthwhile to support you, and we as a society decided it was worthwhile to do. So, we pay a fee (tax, really) that subsidizes costs. Electricity is generated from things dug up from the ground, and that may have caused environmental issues to another region. To be fair to them, we help them clean it up. Goods are trucked in via roads that were paid for by the public. Your healthcare, even if you paid totally out of pocket for doctor and medicine, largely came about due to the US government guaranteeing student loans for doctors (otherwise, banks would not provide such a large amount of money with no collateral) and the fact that public tax money helps subsidize medical research (even if that research ends up owned by a private company, but that's an ethical issue for another day...).

Essentially, by existing, you require stuff, and some of that stuff is not something a free market will support. Too much risk, not enough reward, whatever. So, we as a society get together every once and while and say "Well this needs done anyway, so if business won't do it, how do we pay for it?". We negotiate a small amount every citizen pays into the pool to do these things, and send everyone a bill for the services. This bill from the government is called "taxes".. What, you expect everything to be for free?

Taxes is the bill you get for society to provide you with a modern lifestyle. Now the nice thing about it is that this bill is somewhat negotiable; through voting and our system of representatives, you are more than welcome to be part of the process and haggle for cost and even which services we consider important enough to do/offer. If all you do is complain online and never be involved in government affairs, you're kind of missing the point of living in a democratic society.

So, stop complaining and pay your damn bills. If you're not happy with the service/cost, feel free to get involved in government and change it. At least you have a chance with government... if you're unhappy with your private sector service, they just tell you to get lost.

Comment Re:Authors Of Textbooks Are Not Getting Rich (Score 1) 363

My wife has written many collegiate level textbooks and they are used at many different schools. She netted a whopping $600 in royalties for 2014. The authors are not getting rich on sales of textbooks. Their salaries dwarf what they earn for publications.

Next conspiracy theory ...

What course did she write a textbook for? Upperlevel books probably don't have as many students. In any case, the way to go these days is self publishing through Amazon or Lulu. Keep the profits for yourself and professors that work with you to edit the book. Pearson and other publishers rip you off. I think publishers are at this point almost obsolete. (I know, editors are good, and they may get you some publicity, but neither of those is worth how much they rip students off and how much they keep themselves)

Comment Re:conflict of interest ignored here (Score 1) 363

At a normal university, there would be conflict-of-interest policies that apply and would probably prevent a department from forming a policy to require a course purchase which benefits a faculty member financially. At Cal State Fullerton, either there aren't any strong policies, or they are being ignored, apparently.

I can agree with that. I wrote a small book for a course, back at my old university. I was not allowed to make a profit from the book in any class that I taught. It was picked up by another neighboring university though, and that was ok (though I keep the price low anyway, about $30 right now, only a small profit, because I don't believe in $100+ books, education should be more or less free).

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