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Submission + - LibreOffice Developer's Open Letter to Apache Foundation->

ciaran2014 writes: LibreOffice developer Christian Schaller writes in An Open Letter to Apache Foundation and Apache OpenOffice team: "there are still many non-technical users out there who are still defaulting to installing OpenOffice when they are looking for an open source Office Suite, because that is the one they came across 5 years ago. (...) I hope that (...) you would be willing to re-direct people who go to the openoffice.org website to the LibreOffice website instead. Letting users believe that OpenOffice is still alive and evolving is only damaging the general reputation of open source Office software among non-technical users and thus I truly believe that it would be in everyone's interest to help the remaining OpenOffice users over to LibreOffice. (...) I am only suggesting this due to the stagnant state of the OpenOffice project, if OpenOffice had managed to build a large active community beyond the resources IBM used to provide then it would have been a very different story, but since that did not happen I don’t see any value to anyone involved to just let users keep downloading an aging release (...) OpenOffice is an important part of open source history, but that is also what it is at this point in time."
Link to Original Source

Comment Re:Um...obvious? (Score 2) 291

For this self-control and self-discipline, people would first and foremost have to know the effect it has on them. And that's the problem: They cannot know that.

College is for many people the first time they can get away from their parents. For the first time without constant supervision. And hence of course the first time they can actually get in touch with the things their parents don't approve of. Whether that's drugs, booze or other "bad" behaviour, one thing is certain: They will indulge. Often to excess.

Ordinarily, I'd agree with you. That's what I always tell my American friends, too. But this study has been done in the Netherlands. The drinking age is 18 (used to be 16 like in Germany, IIRC) and Dutch teenagers, much like any European teenagers are much more independent and self-reliant than their American counterparts. Helicopter parenting, while it does exist, is not very prevalent in Western or Northern Europe.

Comment Re:Quid pro quo (Score 1) 187

Excellent reply. A+. ;-)

I, of course, absolutely agree with your original statement, but I also think the GP wanted to point out the much more important ethical aspect: should we build and use machines for something that is such a profoundly human activity, i.e. the communication and exchange of ideas? Taking the Kantian approach here as you so eloquently pointed out in your post: Since I as an essay writer (and reader, FWIW) expect to communicate with humans, using machines for either or both of these tasks contradicts the very purpose of such communication, thus violating the categorical imperative.

Comment Re:Quid pro quo (Score 1) 187

As someone who graded hundreds of essays while serving as a teaching assistant for a senior-level engineering ethics course, I have to say that I find your lack of integrity rather appalling.

As someone who served on the IEEE ethics committee I find your appeal to argumentum ab auctoritate rather appalling. You should know the distinction between ethics and morals. One could make the Utilitarianist case, in which (arguably) the behavior cited is morally OK. One could also make the Kantian argument that (arguably) comes closer to what you were condoning.

Regardless of how much time the TAs did or didn't spend on the essays, however, the students had the same obligations, and rightfully so.

As an assignment for your ethics class: please elaborate, under which ethical systems, the above statement holds true or not, and why.

Submission + - Teenager Expelled and Arrested for Science Experiment

ruhri writes: A 16 year-old girl in Florida not only has been expelled from her high school but also is being charged as an adult with a felony after replicating the classic toilet-bowl cleaner and aluminum foil experiment.

This has quite a number of scientists and science educators up in arms. The fact that she's African American and that the same assistant state attorney has decided not to charge a white teenager who accidentally killed his brother with a BB gun has some thinking whether this is a case of doing science while black.

Submission + - High school student faces Federal charges for scientific curiosity

SemperCogito writes: This petition at Whitehouase.gov (http://wh.gov/zx1m) explains:

Kiera Wilmot is a Florida high school student with a perfect behavior record and good grades. She was recently arrested, hauled from school in handcuffs, expelled, and now faces Federal charges — all because of shameful over-reaction by school officials and law enforcement.

Out of curiosity and the scientific spirit, she mixed some common household chemicals together, creating a vigorous reaction that blew the top off the container she used. No one was hurt — no damage was done. But instead of appluading her boldness of spirit and connecting her to a science teacher that could mentor it, she is being treated like a criminal!

This travesty of justice and education must be stopped. Reinstate her, and wipe her records clean. Then celebrate her!

More on the story: http://blogs.miaminewtimes.com/riptide/2013/04/florida_teen_girl_charged_with.php Her principal's email address: Ronald.Pritchard@polk-fl.net

Businesses

The Twighlight of Small In-House Data Centers 180

dcblogs writes "Virtualization, cloud services and software-as-a-service (SaaS) is making it much easier to shift IT infrastructure operations to service providers, and that is exactly what many users are doing. Of the new data center space being built in the U.S., service providers accounted for about 13% of it last year, but by 2017 they will be responsible for more than 30% of this new space, says IDC. 'We are definitely seeing a trend away from in-house data centers toward external data centers, external provisioning,' said Gartner analyst Jon Hardcastle. Among those planning for a transition is the University of Kentucky's CIO, who wants to reduce his data center footprint by half to two thirds. He expects in three to five years service provider pricing models 'will be very attractive to us and allow us to take most of our computing off of our data center.' IT managers says a big reason for the shift is IT pros don't want to work in data centers at small-to-mid size firms that can't offer them a career path. Hank Seader, managing principal of the Uptime Institute, said that it takes a 'certain set of legacy skills, a certain commitment to the less than glorious career fields to make data centers work, and it's hard to find people to do it.'"

Comment Good Times! (Score 4, Interesting) 212

Ah, I remember. Atic Atac. Moon Buggy. The Hobbit. All great games. But of course the coolest thing was to program that sucker. I always liked the Basic dialect better than Commodore's (which was far more popular in my school), and even liked the weird tokenized entry method. But the real game changer for me was when I bought (yes, bought!) a Pascal and a Forth compiler. Man, Forth rocked. It still is one of my favorite programming languages.

Funny enough, my father was really opposed to me getting one, so an (older) friend of mine had to buy one for me and "lend" it to me until my father finally gave up and let me outright own it. A Ph.D. in EE later I'd say it was a good investment...

Too bad at some point my brother ended up with it and rather than giving it back for proper conservation he discarded it. I miss it dearly.

Comment Re:Firing in US (Score 1) 582

You expressly referred to the differential in power between employee and corporation, which is completely irrelevant to this story.

It may or may not be relevant to this story (it'll be very interesting to see how this plays out). It is, however, very relevant to the argument I was commenting on, which tried to establish an analogy between an employer/employee relationship and a relationship between consenting adults.

BTW there already exist "whistleblower laws" to protect government employees from being fired for pointing out ways that a government bureaucracy is behaving outside of bounds.

I am very well aware of that. I just pointed out to you that, from your original post, you did not seem to be aware that the TSA belongs to a different branch of government than the judiciary and that this fact invalidates your original argument of the TSA being "unable to act as an impartial referee".

If those existing laws did not work to protect her (a dubious assumption, considering, as others have pointed out, that there was less than a week from her sending her letter to a congressperson and her firing), what makes you think that another law would do any better?

Since I am aware of existing whistleblower legislation, I did not advocate for any new or additional laws. In my original comment, I just argued against the assumption that legislation regulating the relationship between employers and employees is unnecessary because it equates to a relationship between consenting adults. And obviously, Congress agrees with me.

Comment Re:Firing in US (Score 2) 582

Excuse me for assuming the the USA had a system of checks and balances. The last time I checked, the TSA was part of the executive branch, and has to abide by laws that the legislative branch created. So we have two branches here, one making laws, one carrying them out. Wait, why don't we create a third branch as an arbiter, let's call it the judiciary?

Comment Re:Firing in US (Score 5, Insightful) 582

Ah, nice. Latching on to the one thing I've neglected for the sake of argument, and for that sake only. Thanks for biting.

This is where the power differential kicks in. Your relationship with your employer is not symmetric. The potential impact on the employer is much lower than on the employee. That's why you need an impartial arbiter or a union (yeah, I know, good luck with that...)

And since you mention the word "friend" here, let me say that you'd be a pretty crappy friend who dumps someone you care about without trying to help him first, which is exactly what the agent tried to do in this case. Also, in this case, this is not only a matter between the employer and employee, because the safety of a third party is affected. As such, it becomes a matter of public safety and an ethical issue. Responsibility also means not just walking away from a bad situation.

Comment Re:Firing in US (Score 5, Insightful) 582

Nope. Because the US is (mostly, there are obvious and absurd exceptions) governed in a way that assumes consenting adults can engage in mutually beneficial relationships without a nanny telling them what to do as if they were five year old children. In Europe most laws are written to the point where they assume the ordinary citizenry are mentally handicapped five year olds that needs to be monitored, watched and told what to do at all times by responsible adults.

I prefer the government treat me as an adult.

Are nanny analogies now the new car analogies on Slashdot?

Anyways, here's what's wrong with that picture:

Let's ignore the massive differential in power between a corporation/employer and an employee for a second and accept for the sake of argument that your assumption of both parties being consenting adults is valid. Of both parties in this case, only one acted responsibly, and that is the employee. The TSA chose to throw a tantrum worthy of a five year old and go "Lalala, I can't hear you!". At that point, I'd like to have a mechanism in place to make both parties behave responsibly. And that, pretty much, is the definition of a law (to lay down what "responsible behavior" is) and this subsequently implies it must be enforced by an impartial entity (judge, jury, whatever is customary in your local law system).

Isn't that the way it's supposed to work even in the USA? Why is everybody so afraid of laws and regulations when time and time again experience shows that especially those with a lot of power act like 5-year-olds any time they can get away with it?

Comment Goodbye Growl - Hello Notification Center (Score 1) 658

Yay! I've been waiting for a decent notification framework to become part of MacOS ever since Growl screwed up mightily after moving to the App Store. Also now I don't have to tweak Mail every single time a new version comes out just to have decent e-mail notification. Was about time...

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