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Comment Re:You must be new here (Score 5, Interesting) 1822

Add a disagree mod.

I disagree. (You see what I did there.)

If you disagree, respond and explain why.

I strongly believe however that there should be a "-1, Factually Incorrect" mod. There are simply too many cases of someone posting something like "You can't install your own apps on MacOS X," or "Restriction on drones are prohibited by the Constitution," or "Android has 95% of the smartphone market," or "Abandonware is not legally copyrighted anymore," or "Hitler was a religious Catholic." And many of these comments are rated up - leave aside my somewhat joking political examples - because the comment sounds informative but mods don't know any better. The comment is usually followed by a stream of "OMG you are demonstrably, factually wrong" posts but often those are invisible to those browsing at higher mod levels and the net effect is to present a demonstrably incorrect statement as true.

These statements aren't necessarily trolls (again, except maybe the political ones) or flame bait, and they aren't just overrated. They are simply wrong in some way that could be factually demonstrated or logically proven. There really does need to be some mod for "your factual claim is provably incorrect." Preferably followed up by some comments citing counterclaims to the contrary.

Comment Re:Take back Slashdot (Score 5, Insightful) 1304

So here's some unsolicited advice (yay!):

Websites that change owners frequently pretty much scream "potentially valuable asset that nobody has figured out how to make money on!" Because if they did actually make money, they wouldn't be getting sold. So Slashdot is a pretty obvious money sink, but it does have a desirable reading audience, many of whom are absurdly vocal about how they don't want to read ads, subscribe or otherwise do anything that would, you know, make the site profitable.

My advice? Focus on content quality - Slashdot could easily post 3x the stories it does today, and have better QA - just by maybe hiring someone with some journalism credentials rather than making the people who write the back end server code pretend to be editors. Improve the quality and make it "must read" material that people are willing to pay for. And try encouraging some writers to create original content - not BS video interviews with talking heads from sponsors, but actual longform journalism. If Slashdot is actually a good enough read, you can monetize a subscription tier that echoes "Slate Plus," "ESPN Insider," etc.

In Slashdot's "glory days," it didn't have a lot of competition. There was no Gawker/Gizmodo/iO9/whatever to read about the coolest Star Wars prequel rumors; people came to Slashdot for that. Even though there's a lot of competition now, Slashdot (barely) hangs on to a superior virtue: a better quality of commenters and a better moderation system than other "nerd" sites. Slashdot was never very well managed, even back in the "CmdrTaco/Hemos Glory Days." Inject some QA into the story vetting/writing process and you'll see a resurgence of readership.

Let me continue to beat this dead horse: all that Slashdot really has going for it is a (minority) smart readership and a superior comment rating system. Explore and improve that. Gamify the f--k out of Karma. Do profiles on crazy frequent Slashdot contributors (not Bennett Hasleton) and let them have a real name and a voice. More badges, go back to numerical representations of karma, give higher upmods to really good contributors, whatever. Reward posters that get a lot of up- or down-mods because they're usually saying something interesting one way or another, even if they're being mod-bombed by ideologues. Reward longer posts. Finally introduce a "-1, Factually Incorrect" mod. This mod system is your real asset - pay some attention to it, which hasn't been done in many many years.

Thank you for showing up to answer questions. Please continue to be engaged. Slashdot has always shown an astonishing lack of self-awareness! Why were there thousands of off-topic posts about how much Beta sucked and why? Because Slashdot's editors didn't even think through the idea that people have opinions of their product enough to introduce a way for people to have meta-discussions about Slashdot. When your readers/commenters are the "product" to your advertisers, how do you not give them a place to comment/vent/respond about Slashdot itself? In the 15+ years I have read this site, I don't remember a single post from "management" saying "how are we doing? comment here." That's just either willful disregard of feedback or idiocy. And seriously, the site itself gets sold, and the post about it is when somebody else submits a link? YOU DON'T THINK THAT'S SOMETHING YOU COULD HAVE ANNOUNCED YOURSELVES? I mean, WTF?

Lastly, please just be open. What's working, what's not. I think people would be willing to turn off ad blockers or pay for Slashdot if someone in charge just said, "Hey, we lose money on this site. We need help. How are you willing to support us? Do you want to donate (a la Wikipedia) in exchange for having ads turned off? Would you be willing to subscribe? Can we do more ads if they follow a certain vetting process?"

It's sad to admit this, but Slashdot has been my "home page" since at least 1999. I'd hate to see it go away, and I'd love to keep it alive and healthy, as long as it's worth keeping.

Comment Re:Just use whatever the Germans do (Score 4, Informative) 315

The French unquestionably played a decisive role in the American Revolution. It is a very debatable question whether the US would exist today had the French not intervened on the side of the Colonies in the revolution, and it is probably more likely that it would not. So the US owes the Ancien Regime of 250 years ago a great deal. But let's not overstate things.

Jackass. Wild guess, but just in case you're USAian (I am), FYI there wouldn't be a USA if France (also Spain and the Netherlands) 240 years ago hadn't intervened in the struggle.

As mentioned, the French played a potentially decisive role. But they didn't do it because they loved America, they did it because they hated the British and saw them as engaged in their own proto-"Vietnam" and saw it in their own best interests to jump in. Remember that the French, 20 years earlier, had "owned" Canada and still had rights to most of trans-Mississippi North America. So it wasn't exactly altruistic. Spain (which was just in it to recapture Gibraltar) and the Netherlands played almost no functional role, other than a potential Spanish-French invasion of Britain keeping their fleet at home in 1779.

Key material and funding and morale support was provided from the beginning. Lafayette arrived in 1777 and stood with Washington through the critical Valley Forge ordeal. In 1778 France entered into an outright alliance.

100% agreed. It is in fact very likely that France's support of the Colonies in the American Revolution indirectly led to the ouster of the French monarchy in their own forthcoming revolution because of the debt they racked up in supporting the nascent US. So, again, mad props to France.

The USA suffered 6824 battle deaths during the Revolution; the French, 10,000.

Misleading at best, if not outright wrong. If France did indeed incur those deaths, it was in naval combat in the West Indies trying to win or protect territories there, unrelated to the US.

France lost 1,150,000 sons in battle in WW1. Together with Russia (1,800,000) they bore the brunt of the fighting. The entire British Empire lost 734,000. The USA? 53,000 - about (but not quite) the same figure as Canada, and almost exactly the same number as Australia.

No arguments there either, but WWI was a European war. The vast majority of Americans at the time wanted nothing to do with it, and only became involved after the Kaiser's policy of unrestricted submarine warfare (and the revelation of the Zimmermann telegram) more or less forced the US in. The US only participated actively in the last six months of WWI, so of course their deaths were lower. But it is still very arguable that the US economic and materiel support in the war was one of the few key deciding factors in support of the Triple Entente.

In one and one half months of fighting in the Battle of France in WW2, the French suffered 360,000 casualties. Compare to 1.1 million military casualties by the US (four times the population of France) in three and one half years of fighting.

No arguments there either. But it would be absolutely insane to argue that the US's participation in WW2, along with that of the Soviets, was not the deciding factor. France (at least the part that wasn't under the collaborationist Vichy government) suffered mightily during the war. But to suggest that France's contribution was greater than that of the US is just silly.

Long story short, the French are not "cheese eating surrender monkeys." They have a proud tradition of victorious warfare dating at least back to Charlemagne. And they were the unquestioned masters of Europe during the Napoleonic era. But all that is no reason to try to diminish the US record in order to try to prove that the French are bad-asses.

Submission + - Explaining the Lack of Quality Journalism In the Internet Age 1

schnell writes: While many lament the seeming lack of quality in-depth journalism today, a Gawker article argues that the inescapable problem is that you need a paying (in some form) audience (of a large enough size) to do it. There are plenty of free "news" sources to be found online, especially blogs simply regurgitating and putting a spin on wire news reports. But as the article notes, "The audience for quality prestige content is small. Even smaller than the actual output of quality prestige content, which itself is smaller than most media outlets like to imagine." Even highly respected news sources like the New York Times are resorting to wine clubs and the Washington Post is giving free subscriptions to Amazon Prime members to drive more corporate synergy and revenue. Rich parent companies are giving up on boutique high-quality niche journalism projects like ESPN's Grantland and Al Jazeera America because there simply aren't enough TV viewers/online ad clickers to pay the bills. So how do we reconcile our collectively stated desire for high quality journalism with our (seeming) collective unwillingness to pay for it?

Comment Re:Thanks (Score 1) 136

Cuba survived in large part thanks to support from the old USSR. NK survives in large part thanks to support from China.

True but Cuba's gravy train dried up after 1991 and they have still limped on for 25 years under the same Communist government led by people with the same last name. You're right that North Korea, for all their "juche," does more or less completely rely on their Sugar Dragon to the North, although much of its foreign exchange is actually through illegal black market trade rather than the largesse of the Chinese government.

I'm not sure Iran has that level of support behind them (though its also possible I'm just not fully up on international politics..)

You're right that Iran doesn't have a sponsoring patron in quite the same way. But they have a strong pipeline in illicit technology with their neighbor Pakistan, and as long as somebody still needs oil, they are never going to lack for foreign exchange like Cuba or North Korea did, where all they have to export to the global market is cigars or Kim Jong Un bobbleheads, respectively.

Submission + - Has Video Game DRM Finally Won?

schnell writes: Engadget reports that a few recent top-tier video game releases using updated DRM technology have gone uncracked for more than a month and left DRM hackers stymied thus far. The games FIFA 16 and Just Cause 3, using an updated DRM system called Denuvo, have thus far frustrated experienced Chinese crackers' best efforts far longer than the usual 1-2 weeks it takes for most games to be cracked. Although the article is light on technical details about what makes the new DRM system harder to defeat, it does note that "Based on the current pace of encryption tech, 'in two years time I'm afraid there will be no free games to play in the world,' said one forlorn pirate."

Personally, I tend to buy all my games from DRM-free stores like or those with minimally invasive DRM like Steam, but I'm also content to buy older games or those on sale. If Steam and DRM-free options make gaming on non-AAA titles inexpensive and hassle-free, and DRM on AAA titles is getting harder to disable, are we moving into a future where game "piracy" really does become a thing of the past?

Comment Re:Thanks (Score 1) 136

The fundamental problem, though, is that the only way to actually stop a country from doing what you don't want them to do is to successfully invade it. Otherwise -- since sanctions and negotiations are of limited effect -- if they're really motivated, they're going to do it.

Precisely this. Did 50 years of sanctions effect regime change in Cuba? No? Did all the international sanctions out the wazoo against North Korea prevent it from building nukes? No? So why would a continued regimen of sanctions on Iran, no matter how harsh, have made a difference? Arguably, only the US policy of "constructive engagement" with China has made any significant change in unfriendly regimes in the past half-century (and you would have to find it in your heart to thank Richard Nixon for that one). Seriously, I hear a lot of conservatives gripe about the Iran deal, but what would they have done differently that would show better results?

If you're still disappointed, at least you can see this as a bright side: Obama has at least bought you 10 years for neoconservatism to come back into fashion so the Cruz administration will have time to invade Iran before they have the ability to turn Tel Aviv into a big radioactive parking lot in retaliation.

Comment Re: Well deserved. (Score 1) 540

users could spend as much or as little as they wanted but ... would limit the amount that any one user could be charged overall for a single game.

Yeah, you got yourself a contradiction right there. The word "limit" and the words "as much ... as they wanted" are inherently contradictory.

This would limit any hardship on any one individual

Hardship? HARDSHIP???? It is buying fake goddamn items in a fucking video game. There is no "hardship" here, just people who want to spend money on things and/or idiots who disable the built-in protections against allowing people (like children) who don't understand money to spend that money.

95% of us, myself included, are idiots in how we spend our money. Some people buy boats or airplanes. Some people spend every free dollar upgrading their rice rocket with spinning wheels and glowing license plates. Some people gamble, either in casinos or on lottery tickets. Some people buy $17 cocktails in Manhattan, others run through $8 packs of cigarettes like they were candy. Some people put themselves through grad school to get a Medieval History degree and go 5-6 figures in debt to do so. Some people buy houses that are bad investments, some buy bad stocks and others lavish hundreds or thousands on Kickstarters that never pay out. Some people spend thousands on vacations to far flung parts of the globe and come back with nothing more to show for it than a few T-shirts and trinkets. And plenty of others will spend cash happily on escorts or prostitutes for transitory sexual experiences.

Some people will read the above list and think "to each his own." Other people will read the list and think everyone is morons except for the people who indulge in their own personal money sink listed above. A fiscally conservative "objective" observer might see everyone involved as idiots. But those people are probably not much fun.

The moral of the story: people of legal age who have the maturity to earn money have the freedom to spend it on whatever asinine thing they want. When you put yourself in the position of deciding what people should be "allowed" to spend money on, and how much, you are objectively making them more financially sound at the expense of making them less free. Don't be too eager to take that role up, lest you eventually find someone else who thinks that what you spend money on should be capped or disallowed.

Comment Re:Kids Ipad (Score 1) 540

The default should be opt-out with a prompt, not opt-in with a non-obvious setting somewhere to disable things.

It is, for the most part. The default setting on iOS is to require the user's Apple ID/password before making any purchase. You can set it to not require a password for 15 minutes, after having the password entered, or you can set it to not require a password at all. Both of the latter items require the user (the person with the credit card account and password) to actively change settings from the default. Or, god forbid, give their Apple ID/password to their little kid.

Sorry the dad got butthurt that Apple didn't send him any warnings - I'm not sure how, since in the US, I get a receipt e-mail from Apple within 24 hours of any purchase - but this is unequivocally his fault because he either disabled default settings or gave his kid the password. (Also, instead of expecting Apple to mind his credit card, perhaps he could have set up warnings with his credit cards provider to automatically notify him if his balance exceeded a certain amount?) Sorry, I simply can't tease this out to be Apple's fault here.

However, stating this fact will make this post very unpopular with all the Android fanboys who came here to hate on Apple, so I expect this post to disappear into moderation oblivion shortly.

Comment Re:Could be easily solved by allowing ios downgrad (Score 1) 344

With iOS, you don't control the phone. You can try to jailbreak it, but Apple will do everything they can to stop you.

From my perspective, I certainly do control my phone. I control what apps and content I use; I control how and with whom I interact using my phone; I have never been prevented from doing anything with my phone that I wanted to (other than perhaps getting free worldwide data, using it as Doctor Who-style Psychic Paper, and finding a software upgrade to turn it into an Espresso machine).

What I want to do with my phone just doesn't happen to include jailbreaking it or using alternative app stores. I just don't get the value of doing either of those things, given how I use my phone. Not trying to be a troll, but please can you tell me what the advantages of those things would be for someone like me who is 1.) happy with the functionality that iOS provides, and 2.) happy with the choice of apps I have already (which, BTW, includes non-public, corporate apps that I can choose to install through my employer's MDM/MAM system)? Other than "zOMG SHEEPLE STALLMAN FREEDOMZ!!!!!!?"

I'm not being pedantic and trying to argue over definitions rather than their underlying meanings, as you suggest. However, hopefully you can understand my point that to say a thing with which you are not permitted to do anything you like is not "owned" by you is at best an overly dramatic choice of words since it connotes something far more meaningful.

For my personal purposes - which I understood when I purchased an Apple product - there is nothing that I would like to do with it which I cannot. If you want to install any app from any source any time, or roll your own phone OS, go do it! Have fun! As many on Slashdot go to great lengths to point out, Android is there for you if you want to do that. If you don't, and happen to prefer the iOS UI/app store catalog, why is this a problem?

Comment Re:Could be easily solved by allowing ios downgrad (Score 1) 344

Keep pretending you own your device.

There are plenty of good arguments you can make against Apple's "walled garden" approach. I simply don't believe that "you don't own it" is one of them.

"Ownership" of a thing (like a phone) means chattel rights to the property. It does NOT mean "I can do anything I want to it."

I own my car, but I am not allowed by the manufacturer or US law to disable the air bags or roll back the odometer. I own my house and surrounding property, but am not allowed to use my land to grow opium poppies in it and harvest them. (I'm in Washington, so I could grow pot in it, but that's a different issue...) I own a semi-automatic pistol, but am not allowed by the manufacturer or law to convert it to fully automatic. I currently own a number of bottles of nice wine and aged scotch, but I am not allowed by law to charge people money to come to my house and drink them. None of these things means that I don't "own" these objects.

Furthermore, when it comes to most iOS or major-vendor Android devices, you CAN root them. It may be complicated and it will certainly void your warranty and deny you the right to OEM/carrier customer support, but otherwise knock yourself out. Just like if you try hard enough you will find ways to disable your airbags, file your pistol's firing pin, or get opium poppy seeds.

A walled garden is a walled garden. You buys your ticket, you takes the ride. That's what you signed up for when you bought it... or didn't want that, so you didn't buy it. But either way, it doesn't impact "ownership" in a legal sense at all.

Comment Re: Anonymous travel (Score 1) 428

So, explain why license plates are required ... The only arguments I can think of are stolen cars or chases.

Fair enough question. License plates serve several purposes:

  1. Indirectly (but probably most importantly) through vehicle license tabs as a way of ensuring cars are up to date for emissions, etc. and extracting money directly from automobile users on a per-vehicle basis for road upkeep. And being able to identify (through expired tags) which should not be on the road.
  2. Identifying stolen cars on the road before they get to a chop shop, or even for those which are just being taken for "joyrides"
  3. Visually identifying cars that are the subject of Amber Alerts or other vehicle APBs
  4. Assessing tolls for photo-based/"toll booth-less" toll roads, or for "red light cameras."
  5. Identifying (through security cameras) "drive offs" at gas stations, getaway cars from crimes, etc.
  6. Being able to pull over a driver who has (or claims) to have no ID for a DUI, etc. and identify them based on to whom the vehicle is registered so you know if they are wanted on other charges (or to flag them for a stolen car).

You may or may not agree with the validity of all these uses, but none of these things can effectively be done at the range required to recognize a unique VIN.

Comment Re:Only when new versions stop breaking their UX (Score 1) 225

I don't think I can think of a single UX improvements from updates after Windows 95

Really? How about:

  • Mac OS X "column browser" view in the Finder
  • Android/iOS/Windows tablets with "swipe from below/above" to view key system settings or notifications very easily (or right-side notifications single-click icon on Mac OS X)
  • Windows 8/10 "tiles" or Mac OS X "Launchpad" to put the most frequently used applications front and center for easy access
  • Transparency (all modern OSes) to make background applications/windows partly visible when useful
  • Anti-aliased fonts and vector graphics (all modern OSes) for icons to make desktops usable at any resolution
  • "Dock" icon repositories (all modern OSes) to make the current and most frequently used applications available at one click, not just a la the Win95 task bar
  • System + web search through an integrated one-click desktop search bar (dates back to MacOS 9[!] Sherlock)
  • "Mission Control" on MacOS X to show live previews of all open application windows using a three-finger mouse swipe, not just Alt+Tab style switching

Look, I agree with you that the advances in desktop OS UIs have been incremental rather than revolutionary since Windows 95, there has been a LOT of good work done there. Try downgrading to Gnome 1.0 and tell me if you see anything missing...

Comment Re:This brings us one step closer to many things (Score 1) 428

We already have national identification cards - they are called passports.

Except, that, you know, passports are optional. O-P-T-I-O-N-A-L. If you never want to leave the US, you don't have to get one. I know plenty of people who never have. And in what way are passports even a bad idea? All countries have an interest in knowing who is coming into their own country, and if they have permission to be there (or should be denied such). You strike me as the sort of person who probably doesn't want Syrian immigrants coming into the US - without passports, how would you know that, and if the immigrant in question is a risk to US security? Other countries have the same rights regarding US citizens traveling to their countries.

I'm actually surprised that you didn't cite what is actually far closer to a "national ID" - your Social Security card. But as long as you don't plan on participating in the US economy in such a way that you involves taxable transactions, you technically don't need one of those either. Get born, grow up and live on a farm where you are self-sufficient and don't make monetary transactions which are subject to Federal taxation, and you can skip that too. Good luck with that, but there are plenty of US citizens in Alaska, Idaho and elsewhere (not to mention millions of illegal immigrants) who do just fine without SSNs.

What this brings us closer to are implantable transponder chips inserted into new born babies if you opt into the keep living plan.

Oh, FFS. That's like saying that because the vast majority of US residents have cellphones, that brings us closer to all having SIM cards implanted at birth. Your tinfoil hat is probably uncomfortable; you may wish to take it off from time to time for the benefit of your hair follicles. Unless you plan to blame your hair loss on "chemtrails."

Comment Re: Anonymous travel (Score 1, Insightful) 428

Why can I not travel anonymously, exactly? How did we allow the Statists to play us so?

Welcome to Nazi Germany.

Oh fucking PLEASE. Godwin-ing this does nothing to improve the quality of discourse.

Look, I am no fan of the TSA and the Security Theater bullshit apparatus they have set up. But it's not unreasonable to understand that your ability to travel anonymously is correlated to the vehicle you are traveling on and its ability to be hijacked and used as a weapon.

You want to walk or bicycle, coast to coast, anonymously? Fine. Go right ahead.

You want to drive a car? I think most of us can agree that you can do enough damage to lives and property with two+ tons of vehicle that the government should be able to 1.) minimally verify that you know how to drive one; 2.) know who you are in case you break the rules and need to be fined or punished; and 3.) have that driver's license revoked if you show you can't operate that vehicle responsibly. But if you want to drive coast to coast anonymously, you can do that. Stay within the speed limit and don't have any malfunctioning vehicle parts, and you have given no one Probable Cause to see you and your license. Avoid those particular toll roads where your license plate is photographed for billing purposes. (You may run into DUI checkpoints, which I think are of dubious constitutionality, but those are comparatively rare.) You can easily go anywhere in the US without anyone knowing who you are, where you're going or why.

You want to travel by train or aircraft? Okay, nobody has hijacked a train in the US (AFAIK) in many decades, but at least for airplanes I think there's a generally understood common good in preventing those people who may pose a risk to a flying WMD from getting on board the aircraft. Is that really hard to understand? It's unlikely but not totally beyond the pale either that a train hijacking could kill everyone on board the train, let alone any bystanders. (Positive Train Control, which could avoid this, has yet to be implemented on Amtrak, sadly.)

Long story short, the US Security Theater apparatus is bloated, inefficient, ineffective and overly intrusive. But to suggest that either 1.) it is impossible to travel across the US anonymously, or that 2.) the government doesn't have a reasonable right to know who is traveling on certain conveyances, is doctrinaire and unrealistic.

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