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Comment: Re:Do Something About It (Score 1) 422

by mx+b (#46804841) Attached to: Intuit, Maker of Turbotax, Lobbies Against Simplified Tax Filings
Technically speaking, maybe it wouldn't stick to the stated purposes, but any amendment would still need 38 states to ratify it so it is doubtful this would be a problem in practice. Nothing crazy can get through -- the solid red or solid blue states can easily veto crazy amendments.

Comment: Do Something About It (Score 1) 422

by mx+b (#46759177) Attached to: Intuit, Maker of Turbotax, Lobbies Against Simplified Tax Filings

Whatever court decision decided that corporations are people too was garbage.

That would primarily be the Citizens United v FEC court decision of 2010, and further backed up by the recent McCutcheon decision of 2014, though of course other little laws and regulations contribute.

If you would like to do something about it, I would encourage you to join a group such as the WolfPAC and Move to Amend. A couple state legislatures (California and Vermont, I believe) have *already* passed bills calling for a constitutional convention to propose a new constitutional amendment that puts into law that corporations do not have the rights of people, and there is similar pending legislation in many other states. Call/write your state congressmen today and get it done, and we can put this nonsense behind us. It is not impossible, it has been done in past history and is already starting to happen now; I'm sure you haven't heard it on the news, but it is happening. Get involved in making history!

Comment: There Is No Spoon (Score 2) 132

by mx+b (#46624755) Attached to: Emails Reveal Battle Over Employee Poaching Between Google and Facebook

Really, the issue is that people like to attach labels to things so they can strawman you. There really isn't such a thing as a left and a right in American mainstream politics; it is one big Corporate Party where we get the "left" and "right" labels based on which corporate industry you pander to the most. They fight with each other so much only because the industries they represent happen to often be at odds. It's not because either really subscribes to a real philosophy.

In past elections, when the country has a "vote the bums out" attitude, we see massive switch over from one party to the other. After Bush, there was a flood of congresspeople to the Democrat side for the election so they could be "Not Bush/Republican". After the antics of Obama's first term, we saw a flood of people switching parties to Republican to be "Not Obama/Democrat". Really, the party title means little now because most of these bozos are the SAME PEOPLE, they switch their party affiliation as the wind blows to try to stay in office.

I say all of this because being leftist/socialist is not necessarily shown as a bad thing just because there are some douches in power that align with the "left". That is a logical fallacy in itself, and we must all try to rise above that and not let the labels define us -- which is exactly what the "left" and "right" want us to do. Let's have a real conversation on the problems of the country, and possible fixes.

Vote Green Party, Justice Party, or Libertarian Party, in 2014!

Comment: Forever? (Score 5, Interesting) 423

by mx+b (#46596933) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Preparing For Windows XP EOL?

I see this response a lot, and I completely understand it. Business needs what it needs, and so if it doesn't see a need to update, it won't. Got it. Perfectly. Crystal Clear.

But an honest question: What happens to that 100k database (maybe 200k in the future?) 5,10,20 years from now, when the computer it runs on breaks and you can't get replacement parts for that old motherboard. When Windows 98 does not have drivers for the hardware being made. When the database grows so large that the HDD in your Windows 98 box can't even handle it. When Windows 98 can't keep up with the network speeds and standards of the future that are required to stay competitive. When the install medium itself gets scratched too many types and stops reading.

I don't feel like I've EVER seen any contingency plan for this. The excuse is always "You're out of touch, business needs to run older systems". Again, I agree and understand. But at some point, maybe not soon, but at some point it WILL stop working, or at the very least, it's age hampers the budget more than helps.

Is there a plan to at least move to VMs to try to preserve the software a little more? (Maybe you are already using the VMs). Are there good backups for the VMs? Can the VMs access the USB ports and what not for your devices? How many of your devices use old ports that don't even come on any computer sold in the past 10 years?

While I understand the reasons for not upgrading immediately (or not even quickly), 15-20 years seems excessive, and I start to think this is a failure of business leaders more so than a misunderstanding of technical people.

Comment: Missing The Point A Bit (Score 1) 409

by mx+b (#46535969) Attached to: Why Buy Microsoft Milk When the Google Cow Is Free?

... I'm a customer who pays with my information. Google then takes that information and offers it to advertisers. So, if Google wants me to keep paying with my information, they have to provide me, their customer, with a good service...

What happens if one day, some Google executive decides they know so much about you that it's not worth it to give you free service 100% of the time?

This is always the danger of proprietary software, no matter how much you pay, what you pay, or even if it's free -- at some point, someone can arbitrarily snap their fingers and your service is gone. You may not be a customer that they want to please forever... just for right now, while it's profitable.

We really need to support efforts like LibreOffice and ownCloud, so that we can have our own systems regardless of what anyone else does.

Comment: Re:This could be good news... (Score 1) 241

by mx+b (#46485303) Attached to: Ubuntu's Mir Gets Delayed Again

I think we need both to compete.

Why? Given they both solve the same problem, but one has wide support and has shipped on devices, what use is the other?

"KDE solves the same problem as GNOME, what use is GNOME?"

"Firefox solves the same problem as Chrome, what use is Chrome?"

"iOS solves the same problems of a phone OS as Android, what use is Android?"

We can go on like crazy with this concept. Competition spurs people to do better, even if ultimately one wins out over the other. The challenge is never to let anyone stay dominant for too long, lest people get lazy. Each of my examples above I think was in a bit of a rut until the competitors came along, and now they both push each other along, making everything better. I think we should encourage competition whenever feasible. (Although I am certainly open to the idea being that Canonical/Mir is not a particularly great competitor, but I wouldn't go so far as to make your claim; if another organization came up to make a Wayland competitor, I would be interested to see their ideas and take on the problem and let the best win).

Comment: Where's Important Things Like Logic (Score 1) 273

by mx+b (#46475209) Attached to: Is the New "Common Core SAT" Bill Gates' Doing?

The thing that bugs me about this attempt at reform isn't so much what they have done, but what they HAVEN'T done. There's things to like in the new standards, for sure. The math standards seem pretty decent (without studying them closely I can't say for sure; I wonder if possibly we're going TOO easy on our kids, I'd like to assume our kids can be smart if we push them and make some basic level of calculus-type mathematics part of the standard). The english standards are a bit harder to follow because they are categorized weirdly, so I will admit I am not too sure what is in there, so the following rant maybe should be taken with a grain of salt.

I think these standards are missing an important question -- why are THESE the important topics we should focus on? As an educator myself, teaching fresh-out-of-high-school students up to 40 year olds returning to school, the major thing I see across all age and economic groups is a lack of understanding of basic LOGIC. Without a good grounding in logic, in being able to make logical inferences and spot fallacies, it is extremely hard to talk mathematics with these people, because they simply cannot follow a train of logic. It bewilders them, and they either give up or they start to believe it's just "magic formulas" that I made up and have no grounding in the real world. 'I just memorize and pass the class so I can move on with life' is their mantra, because they think the subject is a waste of time, because they do not understand how it works. But that's sad because logic is the basis of mathematics, which has tremendous influence on most of the sciences. It's all logic! And it will also help people more so than learning quadratic equations, as it will help them spot fallacies in politicians' arguments, and prepare them for more knowledge-based jobs in the new economy -- network engineering, programming, electronics troubleshooting, etc. It's all logic. I try my best to add some basic logic skills to the math classes I teach to help people out with this, and it seems to work -- I have had consistently good reviews, and many students tell me they really appreciate the down-to-earth-ness of explaining why the formulas work and what they are doing. People are not stupid, they just don't know any better yet, and throwing upper-level concepts at them before they are ready is counter-productive.

tl;dr: If logic is not a part of this standard (which AFAIK, it isn't, I've certainly never heard anyone mention it and the website gives no easily-spotted indication otherwise), then I think the new standards are entirely missing the point of a reform.

Comment: Re:Credit cards to the rescue (Score 1) 538

by mx+b (#46381529) Attached to: U.S. Students/Grads Carrying Over $1 Trillion In Debt
My wife actually attempted to pay one of her loans with a credit card, since she received an offer for a card with 0% interest for nearly 2 years. It seemed like a no-brainer to put one of her higher interest loans on 0% interest and try to get rid of it later. She called to pay it off on credit, and was told they do not take credit card payments. When she asked why, they gave a long story about "looking out for the students' best interests" and how credit cards are evil, and basically they won't do it. Has to be cash payments only. So, not as easy as you think. They really have the system rigged to only play their way.

Comment: Re:Why do free contracting work? (Score 1) 1098

by mx+b (#46060737) Attached to: FSF's Richard Stallman Calls LLVM a 'Terrible Setback'

Now you can't make money period! All the nice frameworks you know are GPL. You can't link them because then you must give away your work for free with no cost to potential competitors all because RMS doesn't believe in the right for you to make money other than support?! How is that fair?

I believe that's a misunderstanding of the GPL. You must only provide code to someone that gets your software -- you could sell the software and only give the code to those that buy it, for example, and meet the requirements.

But let's say that's true. If they can package and sell and support it, great for them. I would bet that unless they are deeply involved in the software, they wouldn't be able to support it -- meaning their customers will ultimately call me to fix it. So I get money and exposure.

The other possibility is that the company does know my software very well and at a deep level, and can support it and modify it. Then the GPL requires their updates be released as well, and so I would get access to their changes to integrate into my product. In this case, its a win-win.

Maybe not everyone is a fan of this idea, but I do not think it is as dire as you claim (and I have in fact started a business using this concept for the software aspect of the work; it is not very old yet, so I will admit the jury is out on it so far, but this isn't me just talking in theory but rather something I think makes sense for my situation).

Want some investors to fund your company? They will see GPL and freak. Why? They can't see the asset as that technically counts as a distribution. Your company value goes down next to nothing and so does your income in disproportionate to the risk going up.

I'm not really convinced "investors" are the smartest people in the world, at least in general. I'm not sure I buy the argument. There are plenty of community-minded people that contribute to things. Why can't the business be a little more non-profit? (Or at least a B-corporation, where you prioritize helping the community even though you are for-profit). Sure, maybe not everyone is keen on it, but I bet you can find a few investors. Or, save up for yourself or take a loan out and skip the businessmen that will insist you run your company into the ground for their profit entirely. That's my approach, though I also agree that this depends largely on what type of business it is (some fields require much more start up money than others).

What if you pay taxes as a business and yet can't use that tax payer funded code? That is what BSD is about since everyone who pays gets it back.

My original post was in regards to for-profit private business use of open source code. Government-backed free-to-the-public software is a different beast, and in that case, it may actually be best for a more BSD-type license to allow larger usages. But I am still not entirely-convinced; if the public paid for it, and you use it, why should you be able to keep ALL of the profit? In this case, every citizen has invested in it, and should get something for it. Maybe simply paying a tax to fund further development of any software would be better than requiring every change to be open? What would be your idea?

I think it is important to be clear here (a) who contributed the code and (b) who the audience is. If it is tax-payer funded open source, businesses that use it owe something to the initial investment of the citizens, and that can be in the form of GPL open sourced changes, or maybe just paying an extra tax to refund the citizens. If it was a donation to public domain by private citizens, then BSD/GPL makes sense if the private citizens are fine with what that means.

In essence when you want a paycheck for your employer even as an employee that is all closed source. Closed source = income. Property rights is what gives rise to business and no business can exist without them.

I think Red Hat has shown closed source is not the only path to income. Considering they support Fedora and now CentOS, I think they made the strategic decision that being open helps their bottom line. It very well might depend on the type of business whether being open makes sense, but I do not think business requires being completely closed. Property rights are important, but I think that's a different question from whether to be open or not, and in what manner. You still own the copyright to the software, for example, with GPL, so its not like property rights are being totally thrown at the window.

Comment: Re:Why do free contracting work? (Score 1) 1098

by mx+b (#46059967) Attached to: FSF's Richard Stallman Calls LLVM a 'Terrible Setback'

What he cares about is some company taking his work, making it better, selling it back to him and then not letting him hack on it

There was perhaps a bit of a confusing conflation of ideas there, I apologize. But I did end that sentence with exactly that concern: "even worse, prevent you from doing what you want with THEIR copy of your work! It needs to be a 2-way street.".

RMS in the past has said he has no problem with people making money off free software, and in fact encourages it, as long as the 2-way street is open for people to use each others' work. This was the point I was trying to make.

Comment: Re:Why do free contracting work? (Score 1) 1098

by mx+b (#46059919) Attached to: FSF's Richard Stallman Calls LLVM a 'Terrible Setback'

My original comment did acknowledge that some might be perfectly fine with providing something for all to use no matter what. Just to achieve something and get it out there. There is nothing wrong with that philosophy, just a different one.

My attitude is that companies make plenty enough money off of people by charging ridiculous amounts for incredibly buggy software. Why should they be able to develop that software easily using my open source library without any return to the person or community that provided it? I don't need a specific acknowledgement or payment to satisfy my ego -- that isn't what I am after -- but rather that something I contribute to the community, I expect to stay in the community. There is nothing more insulting to me than someone that takes the ball and goes home, and that is how I view the situation. WORST CASE SCENARIO, of course. I also understand that perhaps many companies keep the communities in the loop and contribute when they can, and only keep some aspects proprietary. But this isn't what I'm talking about; my concern is, what is necessary to prevent a company from taking community property for their own profit, and not sharing anything with the people that worked hard to provide it?

Without getting too political, it is in my view an odd extension of this income inequality debate. People have different views, see different problems and have different ideas for solutions, and that's fine. But there is room for discussion (not angry debate, but friendly discussion) on what are our most important priorities, and this post (and the original) are my contribution to that discussion. I look forward to seeing other ideas!

Comment: Why do free contracting work? (Score 2, Insightful) 1098

by mx+b (#46059377) Attached to: FSF's Richard Stallman Calls LLVM a 'Terrible Setback'

I like to think of it as, why are you doing FREE work for a proprietary company that has no obligation to you other than to possibly hide your name at the bottom of a long list of credits buried in the help menu? This is what the BSD license allows.

If they aren't going to pay me, then I want them to have to contribute back anything they do with my software, which is what GPL requires. THAT is their way of paying me for my time -- that down the road I can save some time by getting help back from them. And not just me, but the entire community gets that help.

If you are ok with that, then who am I to judge? But I don't think it is as simple as "anything other than his way is bad" -- it is more of a question of, does it bother you to do free work for people, or do you not care just because you think its cool? RMS's concern is that it bothers him to put effort in to let lazy people take it with absolutely no acknowledgement and pay, and even worse, prevent you from doing what you want with THEIR copy of your work! It needs to be a 2-way street.

Comment: This Was Commercial (Score 3, Informative) 351

by mx+b (#46027571) Attached to: Hacker Says He Could Access 70,000 Healthcare.Gov Records In 4 Minutes

I think it is important to point out that effectively this was the work of a commercial company. It was contracted out, and the contractor subcontracted and did whatever it wanted at that point. (Sounds like relatively little government oversight of the project was had, considering the massive cleanup effort when it came to light).

I think it would be fair to argue that the government should have been more involved and had more oversight of the project. I actually wish it was developed "in-house" so to speak, and open source (as I think all publicly funded software should be). The government can do great things. Look at NASA. We have(had?) plenty of smart people with the goal to do something awesome. I wish we hired a software/computing/cryptography group like NASA to just go in there and get it done in an awesome manner. I think the government work could have been magnitudes better if it was done this way.

This was a failure on both sides really -- too many government officials that insist the best way to do things is like a private contractor do it (either for ideology or money), and commercial companies more interested in the paycheck than anything else.

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