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Comment Crowdfunding (Score 1) 335 335


There's been a huge amount of success with crowdfunding recently -- Kickstarter and Indigogo and so on.The most facile projects can get funded to the tune of millions. Meanwhile venerable old free software projects have been neglected. Has the FSF ever considered starting some crowdfunded projects?

I know people can donate cash to e.g. the FSF directly but it's a black box and hard to emotionally engage with that. Compare for example a specific project that could gain a lot of public momentum -- e.g. a Kickstarter project with a specific goal to increase Emacs' IDE capabilities by paying some extra developers to work on it full time. I'd happily donate some cash in that direction if someone were to launch such a project.

Surely worth an experiment at least? Please take my money :)

Comment Re:extracting "fuel" from the very fabric of space (Score 1) 502 502

If we could accelerate to relativistic velocity, the only other things stopping us might be relativistic dust specks, each and every one of which is now a bomb. For reference, see what could have been a deadly ding to the window of the Space Shuttle. If the object was larger, it might have penetrated. IIRC, it was thought to be caused by a paint chip. Velocity? Nowhere near relativistic.

Comment Re:Actually, you CAN'T do that (Score 1) 65 65

"You can't ever get two quarks very far apart. That property arises because the gluon, the force carrier for the strong force, has a strong charge of it's own. "

If you tried to separate "it" from "is", will the force generate new apostrophes?

Pedantry AND wit - what is /. coming to?

Comment Re:Can the brain live without the body? (Score 1) 60 60

In the movie The Matrix, people who died in the perceived reality died "in real life" even though their bodies had no physical trauma. "The body cannot live without the mind." was the explanation for this given in the movie.

I really wonder if the brain could live without the body. It seems to me this is far more difficult than simply keeping a person healthy without gravity: the body provides the brain with nutrition, sensory input, oxygen and CO2 removal, chemical input like hormones, etc., removal of wastes, fine temperature control, osmotic balance, and probably a lot more I have not mentioned. It seems easier to me to supply a body with gravity in space than to supply a brain with all of that.

Oh, and the brain would still need to be pressurized in space, as well as all the fluid input, so it's not clear you'd save a lot on cabin pressure.

This artificial distinction between the brain and the body is a favourite trope of computer nerds, but really, there is no boundary between the body and the brain (except in the minds of people who are used to well-designed hardware interfaces.) In order to convince a brain that it is in a body, you need a lot of simulation inputs, including some very complex chemistry. The simplest and most compact machinery we have for providing this is... a human body!

Comment Re:Whose law? (Score 3, Interesting) 91 91

There are countries (including the US) that do consider certain acts committed outside of their borders, not by their citizens, that only indirectly affect their country or citizens, as full crimes, to be persecuted and the guilty to be extradited, regardless of laws of the countries where these "crimes" were committed.

So, if given country has a law against aiding unauthorized entities from spying on their citizens, and the firm sells the software to these entities, it is committing a crime. And while extradition or direct consequences are unlikely, they are not impossible, especially if employees of the firm ever visit the country in question.

Comment Magic Software Enterprises... (Score 1) 617 617

The first thing I thought of was the Magic software that ran support when I was there. This was the late 90s and it was already considered old.

After I looked up that link, I realized that I had written some FORTRAN during an internship. That was in the mid 80s, and the install may have been a few years old for all I knew.

Comment Re:you underestimate Al Gore (Score 1) 248 248

He's got a T-Rex size carbon footprint as shown here:

Um, dateline 2006? I know this is slashdot and old new is good news, but do you have anything from this decade? IIRC, he's made a few serious changes to his house since then. Not that I'm a big fan of carbon offsets, but still, the world changes around you. And just because you don't like the messenger is no reason to ignore the message (which is pretty well documented.)

Comment Re:No it is not (Score 1) 351 351

The only effect web ads have on me, at least until the IP shows up in my hosts list, is to slow pages down.

Wrong. Advertisement works, that is why it's a billion dollar industry. You think you don't read billboards and ignore other ads? Think again. Your brain picks them up long before it even tells your conscious mind about it. Filtering it out is an intentional process that takes effort (tiny, but effort). And images and emotions are processed by your mind if you want it or not.

Comment Re:Absolutely (Score 2) 351 351

It is pretty much the only way to fund "free" services of all kinds that have large reach but no direct income

No, it is not.

Advertisement created this idea of free services being paid by advertisement. There was a different time in this world, when you paid for your newspaper at the kiosk, and if you wanted to have a website for your journal, you would pay a hosting company.

There were also shared-cost services long before things became commerzialised. Back in FIDOnet days, email was transported by phone lines, and a bunch of people would come together, one of them set up a small server that would do the long-distance delivery and the others would pay him a buck or two a month to cover his phone bills while they got their mail for free or very cheap at local rates.

There is no reason that Facebook could not charge for its service. Except that the advertisement industry has created the concept of everything being free. Nowadays, having a pay service is not viable, not for any sane reasons, but simply because of this parlour trick.

Radio and TV in the time when they were sent by radio waves (and not digitally via cable) are about the only things where there are actual technical reasons why a pay service is not going to work. You can use encryption, but in pre-ubiquituous-computing times, it dramatically raises costs for new customers who need a hardware box.

But those times are over. Today, I challenge you to name one service that for technical or other reasons that were not artificially created (i.e. the expectation of customers that it should be free) has to use advertisement. I don't think you can. Everything that can be monetized by advertisement could be monetized in other ways.
The "there are no alternatives" claim is a damned lie, in politics as well as in business.

Murphy's Law, that brash proletarian restatement of Godel's Theorem. -- Thomas Pynchon, "Gravity's Rainbow"