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Comment: Re:Authors' consent (Score 1) 89

by mellon (#47715901) Attached to: Qt Upgrades From LGPLv2.1 to LGPLv3

ISTM they are allowing others to be unethical, and profiting from that. I guess you could call that unethical as well, but it's a different form of unethical. Until we have a business model for open source software that works repeatably, I have trouble finding a problem with this. (And yes, I've been burned selling service on open source software in the past.)

Comment: Re:No difference (Score 4, Interesting) 75

by mellon (#47715707) Attached to: Do Readers Absorb Less On Kindles Than On Paper? Not Necessarily

That wouldn't explain the different results among kindle folks versus paper folks, though.

I suspect that the lack of physical pages does make a difference in terms of knowing where you are in a book. I certainly know that I can often open a physical book to the location of something I remember and come really close, particularly if it's a book I'm studying, but even for novels.

But knowing exactly where you are in a book does not necessarily affect your comprehension of the book. I don't see any reason why it should. So yes, the lack of positional memory may make a difference in some test methodologies, but it doesn't mean people get less out of reading Kindle books. I mean, books on tape give you a completely different experience of the book than a paper book too; in some ways you probably get more, and in some ways less. This is the same sort of thing, I think.

Comment: Re:Tivoization (Score 4, Informative) 89

by mellon (#47712761) Attached to: Qt Upgrades From LGPLv2.1 to LGPLv3

That's correct. It's one of the more obvious and beneficial uses of GPLv3: anybody who wants to do open source gets to use it for free, people who want to use closed source have to pay, and the company that supports the software gets paid to make it better. Big win for everybody. The only downside to this model is that it requires Digia to hold the copyright, which makes accepting outside submissions difficult.

Comment: Re:Hydroelectric Dams (Score 1) 431

by nine-times (#47711373) Attached to: Solar Plant Sets Birds On Fire As They Fly Overhead

About 40,000 people die in car accidents every year, in the US alone. It's one of those things that I keep pointing out because people keep seeming to fail to realize how many people that is. When people say, "We can't have solar power because it'll kill a thousand birds!" or "We can't have freedom (i.e. NSA spying and CIA torture is ok!) because otherwise we might have another 9/11, which killed a thousands of people!"

40,000 people die every year due to car accidents. Nobody is talking about giving up cars.

Comment: Not that difficult (Score 1) 238

Wired has an interesting article on the possibility of selectable ethical choices in robotic autonomous cars. From the article: "The way this would work is one customer may set the car (which he paid for) to jealously value his life over all others; another user may prefer that the car values all lives the same and minimizes harm overall; yet another may want to minimize legal liability and costs for herself; and other settings are possible. Philosophically, this opens up an interesting debate about the oft-clashing ideas of morality vs. liability."

Before we allow AI on the road, we'll need to have some kind of regulation on how the AI works, and who has what level of liability. This is a debate that will need to happen, and laws will need to be made. For example, if an avoidable crash occurs due to a fault in the AI, I would assume that the manufacturer would have some level of liability. It doesn't make sense to put that responsibility on a human passenger who was using the car as directed. On the other hand, if the same crash is caused by tampering performed by the owner of the car, then it seems that the owner would be liable.

As far as I know, even these simple laws don't explicitly exist yet.

Patrick Lin writes about a recent FBI report that warns of the use of robot cars as terrorist and criminal threats, calling the use of weaponized robot cars "game changing." Lin explores the many ways in which robot cars could be exploited for nefarious purposes, including the fear that they could help terrorist organizations based in the Middle East carry out attacks on US soil. "And earlier this year, jihadists were calling for more car bombs in America. Thus, popular concerns about car bombs seem all too real." But Lin isn't too worried about these threats, and points out that there are far easier ways for terrorists to wreak havoc in the US.

Normal cars also make it easier to commit terrorist acts and other crimes. So what? I mean, yes, let's consider whether we want to take special safeguards and regulations regarding AI cars, but this shouldn't be something to go crazy worrying about.

Comment: Re:Defeats the purpose (Score 2) 229

by nine-times (#47694211) Attached to: Daimler's Solution For Annoying Out-of-office Email: Delete It

Yes, I agree completely. I do kind of hate coming back from vacation to a huge inbox, but on the other hand, I do things like emailing someone saying, "I know you're on vacation and I don't want you to do anything now, but I know I'll forget if I don't send this now. When you get back..."

Comment: Re:Some people need more hand-holding (Score 1) 198

by nine-times (#47694155) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Should You Invest In Documentation, Or UX?

Oh, I wouldn't be surprised at all. I've worked in IT support for a couple of decades now, and I know exactly how that goes.

There are two things about that though. First, it's a bit of a fringe case. You have to consider the question, "How many people of that sort are in my target audience?" If the answer is "a lot", then you should think about writing documentation for them specifically, and find a way separate it out from other documentation for those who are more comfortable using a computer. Otherwise, people who know what they're doing are going to be frustrated searching through 100 pages of inane instructions to find actual information.

Second, people like that often also won't read the documentation. If they do, they won't understand it, or else won't feel confident that they understand it. At a certain point, you have to either provide those people with IT support personnel that they can call (your older relative has you). At the very least, you need to provide them with simple step-by-step instructions that never vary, where they don't even need to understand what they're doing. Like "In order to do [x], press the power button on your computer to turn it on (it's located in the top-right-hand corner of the box under your desk). It will flash some things on the screen for a while. Wait for it to ask for a password, and then type 'hunter2'. Wait 2 minutes. Then find the blue "E" on your screen, with "Internet Explorer" written under it. It will be the third little picture on the screen, all the way to the left..."

I've had to write instructions like that before, and some people need it to be that simple. But obviously a web application vendor can't take responsibility for that level of instruction. Even something like Dropbox, which is designed to be extremely simple, has to assume some level of competency.

Comment: Re:Homeland security would like a word... (Score 1) 213

by mellon (#47682763) Attached to: How to Maintain Lab Safety While Making Viruses Deadlier

Interestingly enough, while 99.9% of the world isn't in jail, quite a few of them are here in the U.S., many for "crimes" that nearly all Americans think aren't crimes. It's a sad irony that crimes that could actually cost people their lives aren't prosecuted, while "crimes" that have no victim fill our jails with "criminals."

Make sure your code does nothing gracefully.