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GNU is Not Unix

Journal: GPLV3 License problem

Journal by isorox

The FSF has often believed the "obnoxious BSD advertising clause" in the original BSD license was a problem.

That's a fine opinion. Imagine my surprise when I had cause to investigate a GPLV3 license peculiarity, which allows a developer to do the exact same thing! Between section 5 and 7, it allows a gui developer to splatter advertising over a GPLV3 product, and require that you not remove it. The issue cropped up a few months ago for the excellent project.

I refused to believe it. I was always under the impression that a user could do whatever they wanted with a GPL project, as long as they offered the same rights to whoever they gave a copy too. Sadly the FSF disagree, at least according to their wonderful team of volunteers.
Section 7 of GPLv3 is, I believe, an attempt to balance the needs of authors and recipients/users

I was always under the impression the GPL was about protecting rights of users, above all else, it seems that under v3, that's no longer the case. A shame, but in future I'll have to be very careful about the difference between free licenses (gplv2, modern bsd, etc) and non-free licenses (gplv3).

User Journal

Journal: Updates to Journal System 13

Journal by CmdrTaco

We've made some significant updates to the submission/journal system. Visiting Submissions and Journals yields a new form that allows stuff like tags to the data types. There are a number of annoying bugs, but for the most part the dust is starting to settle. More notes will be coming, but this journal entry is really just me putting the final test on the new Journal form.


Journal: So like... did I accidentally the Slashdot? 5

Journal by Trolling4Dollars

It's been a while since I've darkened the door here. What with all the shifts to a different account, then Multiply, then a few of the "Social Networking" experiments. So I just got a hankering to come back here for a night.

RE Politics: I still hate them. We have a different sort of president this time around and he's making some of the right moves and plenty of wrong ones as well. But I accept that no president will ever satisfy me at all. They're all idiots. At least this idiot won't attack anyone unprovoked. But... that's about all I have to say for that

RE The Economy: We played with fire believing that the economy could be ballooned out infinitely and this is where it got us. However, there is a part of me that wonders what other financial games on the global front were more stealthily responsible for the problems we're seeing. The economy is like the water system in a house. I think someone else on the planet just turned the cold water onto maximum and we're getting scalded in the shower. My money is on China.

RE tonight's Perseid Meteor Shower: Every fucking year on the peak night of the Perseids, we get massive cloud cover. EVERY FUCKING YEAR SINCE 1998 when I first started paying attention.

RE Facebook: Yeah. I'm there. Mostly for personal and professional reasons. It has it's ups and downs. But damn I'm feeling old now. I've been through quite a few "social networks" this place included since 1989. 20 years of social networking and seeing that same stuff repeated over an over and over... Tonight's rerun: the Meyers-Briggs personality assessment seems to be all the rage on Facebook.

RE Operating Systems: Still using Linux. I prefer to actually know how a computer works vs. being completely trapped by a lack of knowledge when a more "friendly" system breaks in a way that can't be tweaked or fixed by a non-coder like me. However, I am pretty impressed with the Windows 7 trial so far.

RE Career: Everything is up in the air now. My organization has experienced massive budget cuts from the state of Ohio. So there is a high likelihood of layoffs this year. We're already foregoing any raises of any kind. But that hasn't been enough to meet the shortfall. So who knows what will happen. I'd love to get out sooner rather than later. Need to bone up on the application and interview processes. I missed out on a rather nice job possibility because I sent my printed resume via snail mail and that organization no longer accepts that format. Had I read the super small fine print at the very bottom of the page with application instructions, I would have found that the online application is NOT optional.

RE Art/Music: I've had zero time to spend on this ever since becoming a parent. By the time I have late night time, I'm too mentally tired to give it a try. But I need to persist. I've had just a few short victories in the past five years. Sadly where I used to be able to spend 6-12 hours on making full songs, I now have just barely enough time to get about a 20-30 second start and then I have to go to sleep. The choice is between being a good dad or a good artist. Right now I choose being a good dad. My kid needs that more than I need an artistic outlet.

So that's my semi-state of the union address. Hope anyone who is still here and reading is doing better than they were a few years ago. And if not, I wish you the best of luck in the coming years. I'll check back again. Someday.

User Journal

Journal: Minor and Major updates 8

Journal by CmdrTaco
Pudge made a cool change in discussions- if you link to a comment deep inside a thread and click 'More' the sytem is much more intelligent about crawling down and retrieving children, and then parents and grandparents and so forth up the ancestry. So odds are you'll get more related comments sooner.

We now abbreviate journals in the firehose... so they are more like slashdot stories with a Read More link to the full text.

The big user facing change this week was structural: historically we had 2 different "skeletons" on Slashdot, but with this refresh we unified to a single one. This change simplifies maintenance for us quite a bit (maintaining the idle section and the firehose views of the same data was a royal pain).

You also will see some changes to the layout. We're playing with the tab layout a bit, moving some menus around and better integrating the core functions into the site chrome. It's a bit buggy atm, so feel free to email me if you see something wonky. We're extinguishing a few minor brush fires but there's no forest fires that we're aware of.

User Journal

Journal: The Wind

Journal by CmdrTaco
Zach knows the wind now. I saw him look at the window and see the leaves rustle. He then started making blowing noises. We blow the mobile over his crib whenever we change his diaper, so he knows the blowing noises move objects. But he's translated that to leaves hundreds of feet away through a window. Now I'm not saying he's a genius, but he's pretty awesome.
User Journal

Journal: I'm Feeling Grumpy 1

Journal by Trolling4Dollars

My only comment on Election 2008:

It's not left vs. right, or republicans vs. democrats. It has nothing to do with political parties. Instead the simplest two sides in the most general terms are:

People who don't have much power (financial, political, business, etc...)


People who have all the power (financial, political, business, etc...)

If you can't change something about your life, your town, your state or the country, that would help not only you but everyone around you, then you have little power. How does that dynamic even interact with your current presidential candidate selection? Think deeply. Discuss (Heh. All three of you left on Slashdot). I think you'll find that election 2008 is the most fruitless of all presidential elections in recent memory. (Don't mistake this for class warfare either. There are varying levels of power in each economic class)

User Journal

Journal: Beta Metamod Updates 28

Journal by CmdrTaco
This won't significantly affect most of you, but we have been working on some meta mod changes. The most user visible change is that the UI we used to use was thrown out, and instead we are using one based on the firehose. Subscribers will see it when they go to the old metamod link although users can see it by going to this version of those hose

The first real change is that we've changed the meanings of the UI around. The old system is 'Fair' and 'Unfair' and the new system is '+' and '-'. The meanings are subtly different. You are no longer rating individual 'Insightful' or 'Troll' or whatever... you are now stating basically "Is this comment good or bad for you". Personally, since I find very few Score:5 funny comments to be actually really funny (and not just cliche memes) I '-' most of them. You are encouraged to be harsh if you don't actually think something is insightful or funny, call it such. The system encourages more of what you + and less of what you -.

You are also welcome now to do more than 10 m2 per day... however we internally have diminishing returns after 10, so you can do more, but they start to matter less and less.

There will undoubtedly be bugs so feel free to email me or vroom at slashdot if you find them. Probably next week or so we'll move this out to everyone, so your assistance is appreciated.

The Internet

Journal: D2 Remembers What You've Read 5

Journal by CmdrTaco
Well, for subscribers only this week at least. We have a half dozen minor bugs left in the TODO list, but if you are a paying subscriber you can test it out. It works best if you are using the keybindings to navigate. Pressing 'f' takes you to the next unread comment respecting thread order... so you can press that over and over again.

We also added a thing to 'collapse comments after reading' which I think I might turn of as a default setting soon. This is only usable for subscribers atm as well. But basically, as you navigate through a discussion, it collapses the comments you've read after you move on. This makes it really easy to navigate large discussions without having to scroll over 150 comments you've already read.

we're aware of a number of annoying bugs, but hopefully most of them will be squashed by Pudge for this weeks code refresh. If things are stable, we hope to roll this out for everyone rsn.

also my baby cut his first tooth yesterday. My furniture will never be ungnawed upon again.

User Journal

Journal: ELECTION 2008: What it Takes to be President 3

Journal by Trolling4Dollars

This is a work in progress. I may come back to it. I may never:

No one has "what it takes" to be president. America has reached the limits of what it can do in the world and is failing. There are no good candidates this election because no human on the face of the planet can meet the challenges of 21st century government.

The problem is caused by many parts, but the two biggest are:

1. The failure of the abilities of human consciousness to be able to make multiple decisions quickly and effectively without being swayed by any kind of personal interests. With the conservatives, those personal interests are profits and business. With the liberals, those personal interests are any number of emotionally driven issues which are used to control them.

2. The inability of most of the western world to accept that unless you adjust your expectations to voluntarily live with massive inconvenience, and discipline yourselves to respond appropriately and holistically to those inconveniences, you will fail in your goal to remain a cohesive civilization.

Your response to every problem that has been thrown your way for these past 50 years has become increasingly inadequate. The majority of the cause for that inadequacy is the cult of individuality that arose from the 1960s and 1970s. The lie that the individual is all important has utterly weakened any firm intellectual foundation that once existed previous to the changes born out of that era. Born of that same family is also the dislike and distrust in any organization with any power over individuals. This prevents people from organizing in any productive way to achieve a goal. The more successful the organization, the more it will not be trusted.

You face the threat of environmental disasters on many fronts of which a decent number of our modern technologies can take the blame for causing. How do you respond? You either waste your time and energy protesting the businesses that are responsible. Or you try and create the modern day equivalent of the indulgences of the catholic church and excuse certain polluters because they're throwing money at the problem. Or you just bury your heads in the sand and say, "there is no problem because we can't even prove it's man made".

You face terrorism from a variety of people and groups with self-serving and negative agendas. Instead of trying to find ways to thwart terrorists that involve real security, what do you do? On the one hand, you launch a poorly planned attack on a country that had little to do with terrorist attacks in the world. That attack turns into the current quagmire in Iraq that you have little choice but to remain engaged in now. On the other hand you waste more time arguing and protesting in the name of peace without ever accepting that humans are not a peaceful animal.

Do you even consider that part of the problem for the massive disagreements in directions to take might be caused by the intellectual "software" of one or more cultures being completely incapable of understanding or relating to other cultures? No. That's massively inconvenient to the liberals because it smacks of nationalism or even racism. To the dimwits on the right, it's not even conceivable. They actually labor under the delusion that everyone "good" thinks the way they do.

There is no human solution for the problems you are having. The population of the planet has gotten too big to be managed by human beings. The pace of change has increased tremendously to the point where no human being is capable of keeping up. You are seeing humanity reach the limits of self-governance on a world-wide scale and you are headed for complete failure.

So all of you people with your candidates picked out for this Fall, the joke is on you. You are all failures if you can't understand my warnings. There is no acceptable candidate, nor will there be. Do not deceive yourselves into believing in any kind of solution that human beings create. Humans are nothing more than arrogant, foolish animals with a tenuous and illusory set of laws and rules as your only distinction from other animals.

User Journal

Journal: Flat Mode Discussions 13

Journal by CmdrTaco
So as we've been migrating the system from the tired old D1 to the exciting and awesome new D2 a number of complaints have come up. I'm going to talk about a couple of them here because I'm really looking for feedback on THESE issues. Please only talk about these points or I will mod you offtopic or troll or something.

The issue is about the use of Flat/Threaded/Nested modes. D2 cleanly replaces both threaded and nested modes- you effectively get nested mode by bringing the 2 sliders together. And threaded mode is vastly more flexible because you can choose the level at which comments are abbreviated or displayed in full text. So users of those modes should be set (obviously there are other reasons not to use D2, I'm just talking about the layouts here tho)

What's left is flat mode, which has a number of sort options. Now flat mode is used by roughly 4% of our active population. When i think about flat mode, I think about 2 reasons you would have to use it:

  1. I hate indenting and whitespace. I want a big vertical column now this isn't my bag, but I can understand it and even consider supporting it in D2. I think you sacrifice legibility, but this is a personal preference. It also would be easy to support in D2. Hell, you could probably do it in a greasemonkey script no problem.
  2. It's easier to remember your place in flat mode This to me is the only reason to use flat mode- you can reload your page an hour later, find the last comment you read, and pick up where you left off.

Now I Would think that the only reason to use flat mode is #2... except that only a couple hundred Slashdot readers have the 'ignore threads' sort order enabled. So either they don't understand what they are doing, or #1 above is the real reason that they use flat mode.

So in a nutshell, the question I am asking in this journal is 'Why do you use flatmode?' Is it cosmetic? To more easily keep your place in a discussion? Something I'm just missing? We have plans to implement a read/unread state retention for discussions, so maybe would you migrate to a threaded view if that function exists? Or is it purely aesthetic... an irrational hatred of scrollbars and whitespace? :)

The reason this matters is that simply formatting the page flatly is easy. Probably a simple greasemonkey hack or maybe a few lines of CSS. But re-implementing the alternate sort is gonna take some work. And I'm ok with that... except that the logs say that nobody actually USES that sort... they ONLY are using flat mode for the cosmetic reasons.

Speak out! Stay on-topic or you WILL be moderated down.

User Journal

Journal: D2 Updates 70

Journal by CmdrTaco
In-Place Posting is now live for all logged in users. Hopefully there are no surprises. We've found a number of very tiny bugs, but nothing show stopping. We'll leave the link up to the 'classic' reply form for a few weeks. Next week anonymous coward will get the new posting form... hopefully there are no surprises with that.

A few new keybindings aren't documented yet... v (end) t (top) [] change upper threshold and ,. change bottom threshold. Also 'r' opens the new reply box, m opens the mod total thingee.

The only major complaint so far is that the design changes consume a lot more whitespace. I have mixed feelings on the subject, but am aiming to strike a balance. We noticed 2 very clear places where the whitespace is excessive and hopefully that will be fixed RSN. But on the other hand, making deep threads visually clear, and drawing some attention to the 'reply' buttons is beneficial to everyone, so bare with us as we work to strike some sort of balance.

User Journal

Journal: Discussion2 In-Place Posting Testing 16

Journal by CmdrTaco
Discussion2 rolls on... the most recent addition to the system is in-place comment posting. Essentially, little dynamic ajaxy slideout boxes to post directly within the thread, without going to a stand-alone page. This is great because you don't have to lose your place within the thread to post.

this functionality is currently only available to paid subscribers, and several hundred of them have tested it out already. We still need to make it look pretty and add a few minor things (like the CAPTCHA for anonymous posting) but it's almost done.

Also worth noting is that logged in users can click on the 'Score' field of comments to view the moderation information on the comment. This information was previously not visible within D2, unless you navigated outside the d2 system (opening a comment in a new window did it). I doubt most people really care about this info, but it's available.

We also have one (perhaps minor) thing to get in... right now if you visit a comment directly via a CID link you can navigate within that thread, but navigating 'up' the comment hierarchy results in a new page, and a new discussion... this makes context a pain to maintain. So pudge is going to change that page to display the parent posts in an abbreviated format. This will mean that you can climb back up the thread easily, even if you entered the forum via a link deep into a thread.

A few minor items left on the todo list (keybindings for threshold changes... maybe press 'r' to open the reply slideout from the current comment, and a bunch of small design issues to make the threads a little more visually clear and easily navigatable) and we're ready to call D2 finished.

We have no plans to remove D1, so those of you who hate D2 are welcome to stay on the old system, but obviously new moderation tools and whatever else we think of will be attached to D2, not D1, so you've been warned ;)


Journal: Discussion2 Notes 18

Journal by CmdrTaco
In the last few weeks, we've switched most users over to the new 'D2' discussion system- a fully ajaxified discussion system. There are a number of minor bugs, but I figured I'd toss up a few quick notes to address the biggest user complaints.
  1. you can turn it off if you log in. Some people get stuck in there ways, and no matter what we build it will never make you happy. So you can have the old lame system and we'll all enjoy the new cool system without you.
  2. you can get 'nested' mode back by dragging the 2 thresholds together in the floating slider. they connect and become a single thing. it's quite nifty, and if you are logged in the setting is remembered so you don't have to click to navigate deep threads.
  3. you can get more comments at once from the 'prefs' link. the default is currently 50, but choosing 'many' changes that (currently) to 250, which means you will get roughly the average number of comments in a typical slashdot story. Yes you will need to click 'more' on a huge discussion, but at that point we're talking about very large pages and slower computers like to choke on huge pages anyway so we have to balance size and performance.

there are 2 huge wins here for everyone... the first is retention of context. You can wade into a thread, retrieve more comments, change your threshold, all without losing your place like you did in the old system. And using the WASD keys to navigate makes it very easy to peruse discussions in a number of interesting ways. mouseover the help text in the floater for more information about how they work. We're open to suggestions on how this should work- i'm not totally happy with it yet... but it *is* possible to mash a single key and go from start to end of a discussion, which pleases me.

the second is that the default users see the highest score comments first. You can change this by logging in and toggling the retrievable order to oldest first, but for most people this means that the first comments they see will be the best. There are so many great comments on Slashdot, but most users don't see them because they are buried within the discussion. I think this goes a long ways towards helping.

A final word about the ads in there- unfortunately there are ads in the new system. Changing from a static page-page-page system to a dynamic ajax system with a single 'page load' causes us to serve hundreds of thousands of fewer ads. We worked out roughly how long people read discussions and are trying to strike a balance so that you see roughly the same number of ads under this system as you would have under the old one. We'll tweak it of course, but we gotta pay the bills here people!

And obviously all of this is a work in progress. Pudge is leading development work on this. The next project is to make it possible to post without losing your place in the discussion, and then to refine navigation keybindings and thread expansion/contraction controls to make the whole UI clean. We appreciate constructive criticisim. There are bugs (especially in IE, but almost no slashdot user runs IE) but we're mashing them out- thanks for your feedback on them. As we sand off the rough edges I think you'll all find the new system a vast improvement if you just play with it for a bit and give it a fair chance. Not all change is bad ;)

Old programmers never die, they just branch to a new address.