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Comment: What is really happening here? (Score 1) 909

by Bruce Perens (#47930483) Attached to: ISIS Bans Math and Social Studies For Children
We are in a War on Faith, because Faith justifies anything and ISIS takes it to extremes. But in the end they are just a bigger version of Christian-dominated school boards that mess with the teaching of Evolution, or Mormon sponsors of anti-gay-marriage measures, or my Hebrew school teacher, an adult who slapped me as a 12-year-old for some unremembered offense against his faith.

Comment: Re:Anti-math and anti-science ... (Score 1) 909

by Bruce Perens (#47930331) Attached to: ISIS Bans Math and Social Studies For Children

Hm. The covenant of Noah is about two paragraphs before this part (King James Version) which is used for various justifications of slavery and discrimination against all sorts of people because they are said to bear the Curse of Ham. If folks wanted to use the Bible to justify anything ISIS says is justified by God's words in the Koran, they could easily do so.

18 And the sons of Noah, that went forth of the ark, were Shem, and Ham, and Japheth: and Ham is the father of Canaan.
19 These are the three sons of Noah: and of them was the whole earth overspread.
20 And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard:
21 And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent.
22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without.
23 And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father's nakedness.
24 And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him.
25 And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.
26 And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.
27 God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.

Comment: Re:Never underestimate a bored teenager (Score 1) 110

by sjbe (#47929319) Attached to: Logitech Aims To Control the Smart Home

More and more of the new appliances these day (especially air conditioners) are able to be remotely controlled / throttled by the utility to prevent overloads.

The question is by who? If the power company isn't careful and routes those controls over a public network that they do not fully control then all bets are off regarding who controls the system.

By the time these new smart systems become deployed on a large scale i expect most appliances will have this ability.

I'm thinking you haven't worked too closely with a power company lately. The grid is positively archaic and certainly doesn't have the fine grained control you seem to think it does. The power company around me actively resists investing in upgrading their service faster than a pace that you could describe as glacial. They also seriously do not give a shit about their customers because they don't have to. Where else are they going to go?

In the last 24 months I have power company employees damage my property, start a fire (no joke), kill some wildlife, trespass, and cut down trees they had no right to cut down and cause enough trouble that our township supervisor (our version of a mayor) actually came on site to find out what the problem was. And I'm supposed to believe these people will have the competence and diligence to worry about some clever hacker turning on my AC? Yeah, I doubt it.

Comment: Careful generalizing your own needs (Score 1) 110

by sjbe (#47928245) Attached to: Logitech Aims To Control the Smart Home

I still don't understand which problem these smart devices would solve for me. It's a light switch. It's on when I want the lights on. It's off when I flick it.

There are plenty of use cases though they may or may not apply to you. I have controls on certain lights in my house because I forget to turn them off. It's also nice to be able to control multiple lights at the same time for specific purposes. If I'm setting up to watch a movie it's nice to not have to hit several switches, dim the lights, turn on a bunch of devices, etc. Instead of me wandering through the house turning stuff off at night, I can simply push one button and set everything. Same with when I come home. I can check if I've left lights on or turn them on remotely if needed. It's certainly a luxury and not a necessity I'll admit but that doesn't mean it isn't useful or that I don't have a use for it.

Furthermore fine grained controls can save power. While the technology is still new so the economic payback is sometimes iffy, I do get satisfaction out of not wasting power needlessly.

The thermostat requires my attention four times per year, when the season changes -- and software doesn't help because the floor registers need to be adjusted manually, and it's still no more than 5 minutes of "effort" per year.

Sounds like that may not apply to you. I tinker with my thermostat more often than that and having some controls actually is pretty helpful to me. I have a Nest thermostat and I've found it pretty helpful to be able to control and check the house temperature through my smartphone.

I sure as hell ain't letting software turn on my oven

But you might want the ability to turn it off in case you left it running for some reason. It's quite possible to make a control that only turns things off. It's also possible to have it notify you that it is on if you leave the premises.

How about solving a problem that I have, instead of trying to convince me that I have a problem?

Be careful generalizing your own situation. There are plenty of us out here who actually do find some of this stuff useful.

Comment: Never underestimate a bored teenager (Score 1) 110

by sjbe (#47927381) Attached to: Logitech Aims To Control the Smart Home

Yes, but why the hell would modern hackers(who are after money, rather than bragging rights) give a shit about your air conditioner?

There is plenty of malware out there that has no purpose other than causing problems for others. Some @$$hole amusing themselves. There are WAY too many smart bored young hackers with a chip on their shoulder. Someone is going to cause problems just because they can.

Plus if someone really wanted to cause problems they could turn EVERYONES air conditioner up all at the same time on the same day to try to overload the system.

Comment: Re:How can I get it? (Score 1) 318

by Yaztromo (#47921017) Attached to: Say Goodbye To That Unwanted U2 Album

Install iTunes somewhere, sign up for an account (you can do so without providing a credit card number), and download the album. Apple has been selling music DRM free for the last several years, so it's just standard AAC. Once you have it, remove your account, delete iTunes, and add the music to whatever music program you prefer to use.

Unless, of course, you live in Canada, where copying music from a friend is still perfectly legal.


Comment: Re:It's a relationship argument about control. (Score 1) 318

by Yaztromo (#47920949) Attached to: Say Goodbye To That Unwanted U2 Album

Sorry, forcing a download of an entire album is *not* giving you an option that "you don't have to tune into". This is not you giving the kids an album you like, this is you strapping them to a chair to listen to it à la "Clockwork Orange". If everyone got an email saying "Click for a free download of the album!" there would be no complaints. (Mockery, perhaps, but not complaints. :-) )

Except this is pretty much exactly how the system was setup.

In "releasing" the album, Apple pretty much just added a database entry for every user on iTunes to say that they had already purchased the album. It was then supposed to[0] show up in your iTunes library as "in the cloud", with an option to download it.

Nobody was forced to download the album. The only way you'd download it without needing to do so specifically is if you had previously turned on the option to automatically download all new iTunes purchases (which defaults to off). And the only way you'd have to worry about using cellular data for this is if you had the option to download iTunes Music purchases over mobile enabled as well (otherwise, it would wait until you're on WiFi). So yeah -- this is completely a tempest in a teapot from people who don't like U2 seeing a free album available for download showing up in their libraries.

Hopefully Apple have learned their lesson. It was a publicity stunt, and while it upset some people, here we are talking about it. I don't think it went off the way they were hoping it would, and hopefully they've learned some lessons in the process.

[0] - Here in Canada at least, it appears the setup for this album didn't work for a very large number of users. I know in my case, the U2 album did not show up on my iPad as it was supposed to, nor did it show up in any of my iTunes libraries. And I do have the auto-download option enabled. In order to get the album, I had to go into iTunes and find the section that shows all your existing purchases, and then select the "Not on This Device" list, and only then could I download the album. And looking at the album reviews on iTunes Canada, it seems that I was hardly the only person to experience this -- nearly every review when I last checked last night was form people trying to figure out how to get their "free" album. I haven't seen this level of complaints outside of Canada, so I'm assuming either a) something screwed up with the iTunes Canada edition of the album's launch, or b) iTunes Canada did something different in order to not run afoul of some legislation (although I can't for the life of me guess what legislation that might be). This situation seems to have been lost in the noise of everyone else complaining about getting a free album, so I haven't heard much commentary on the situation.


Comment: Got proof? (Score 3, Interesting) 196

by sjbe (#47917347) Attached to: WSJ Reports Boeing To Beat SpaceX For Manned Taxi To ISS

SpaceX is a young and aggressive company with clear drive and motivation to succeed.

Dive and motivation are necessary but not sufficient. Having those attributes doesn't mean they have a good product or the product with the best price/performance ratio. I have no idea of the relative merits of either company regarding this project but just because SpaceX is the new hotness doesn't mean anything. While I have no affiliation I've actually done some work at Boeing (many years ago) so I have at least a basic understanding of how that company works and what their culture is like. (FYI the part of Boeing I dealt with has a combative work culture I didn't enjoy at all) I'm confident they could offer a technologically competitive product. (economically competitive is less certain) Boeing has been sending up rockets for a long time so they are hardly new to the game.

While they might have been a risky bet because they were new, they would have backed their development record.

Boeing has a much much longer development record. Of course that might also work against Boeing but SpaceX does not have a long track record to go on. I'm as impressed with SpaceX as many others here but if they want to play with the big boys it isn't going to be easy and yes they are high(er) risk in certain ways. This means they need to be clearly better (economically and/or technologically) or they stand a good chance of losing to the "safe bet".

We need competition between these companies and giving SpaceX a chance to shine will make Boeing stop screwing over the U.S.

Umm, this IS the competition between these companies. This one bidding competition isn't the end-all-be-all regardless of which firm wins this contract. Plus you haven't exactly proven the assertion that Boeing is actually engaging in corrupt practices here. While I certainly wouldn't be shocked to hear that they were, that isn't anything close to proof. Absent evidence saying that SpaceX should get the contract because you suspect Boeing (without proof) of corruption is not a strong argument in favor of SpaceX.

Comment: You are the vendor, not the product (Score 1) 290

by sjbe (#47889015) Attached to: German Court: Google Must Stop Ignoring Customer E-mails

You're not the customer. You're the product.

That's not correct either logically or from an accounting perspective. The opposite of customer is not product. The opposite of customer is vendor. Every transaction has two and only two parties. If you aren't the customer then you are the vendor for that transaction. Unless you plan to go into slavery the product isn't you. The product is data about you. What that makes you is the vendor of the product. Google "buys" this data in exchange for IT services and they then sell the data to advertising customers. In that transaction chain Google buys from you and that is how you appear on Google's financial statements - as a supplier, not a customer.

Comment: Vendor not Customer (Score 1) 290

by sjbe (#47888975) Attached to: German Court: Google Must Stop Ignoring Customer E-mails

The user's relationship with Gmail does involve payment in the form of consideration, and they are customers.

That doesn't make them necessarily a customer for that transaction. As far as Google is concerned they are vendors because Google "pays" users via an in-kind exchange of services for data which they then sell to their customers for cash. In that transaction chain the user is properly considered a vendor to Google and that is how they would show up on Google's financial statements. In that transaction Google would be your customer rather than the other way around.

Comment: You are a vendor in that transaction (Score 1) 290

by sjbe (#47888957) Attached to: German Court: Google Must Stop Ignoring Customer E-mails

Sure they are customers. They are paying with their personal data, which Google hords and then sells to third parties.

That makes you a vendor/supplier rather than a customer. Google "buys" your data with an in-kind exchange for IT services and then they sell it to advertisers. You aren't a customer, you are a vendor in that transaction chain.

Comment: You are a vendor to slashdot (Score 4, Informative) 290

by sjbe (#47888939) Attached to: German Court: Google Must Stop Ignoring Customer E-mails

Of course I'm one of slashdot's customers. Slashdot would be out of business if we (the customers) stopped coming to their website.

I'm an accountant.

Unless you are sending cash to slashdot, your relationship to them is most accurately described as that of a vendor or a supplier if you prefer that term. You provide data to slashdot in exchange for entertainment which is a form of in-kind exchange. Slashdot then uses that data to sell advertising to their paying customers. From an accounting perspective by providing this forum to you, you would be on slashdot's books as either Cost of Goods Sold or more likely some kind of Operating Expense. This effectively makes you a vendor to them, not a customer because they don't sell you anything.

It can get a little murkier if you have a paid subscription but they still advertise to you because then you become both a customer and a vendor. Which you are depends on the transaction in question. Logically it would make sense to have the subscription be treated as a contra-expense because then you don't have to have this dual relationship. But it's more likely that they would book it as income and have the user on the books as both a customer and (indirectly) as a vendor.

Comment: Users are generally vendors not customers (Score 2) 290

by sjbe (#47888829) Attached to: German Court: Google Must Stop Ignoring Customer E-mails

A customer is someone who receives a service from a company, even if the (monetary) price for that service is zero.

That doesn't make you a customer. That makes you a charity recipient.

In any case the general relationship between Google users (as opposed to paying advertising clients) is that the user is properly thought of as a vendor or supplier. We supply data to Google in exchange for in-kind services (email, search etc) which Google then turns into a product which they sell to their paying customers. Customers are people who pay you and vendors are people you pay. Google "pays" users for their data with online services which is a sort of barter really. They then process that data into a product they can sell to their customers which generally are advertisers.

What sometimes confuses people is that Google also sells IT services (like data storage or corporate email) but what that simply means is that someone can be both a vendor and a customer depending on the specific transaction. This is perfectly normal. It's not at all uncommon for companies to sell stuff to each other and have both a vendor relationship and a customer relationship but they can be only one or the other for a given transaction. The key distinction to determine whether they are the vendor or customer is (generally) the direction of the cash flow for the particular transaction in question. In cases in-kind exchanges its a little fuzzier so you have to look at what they do with the item received.

Asynchronous inputs are at the root of our race problems. -- D. Winker and F. Prosser