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Comment: Re: About right (Score 1) 241

by vakuona (#49114219) Attached to: In Florida, Secrecy Around Stingray Leads To Plea Bargain For a Robber

Um, no, unless that "kid" uses said sandwich to rob some people who actually believe the sandwich pointed at them is an actual gun! It's quite obvious from the context that we are talking about someone using something that a reasonable person would have no reason to believe wasn't a gun when it was pointed at them.

Comment: Re:Call your congressman (Score 2) 241

by vakuona (#49111789) Attached to: In Florida, Secrecy Around Stingray Leads To Plea Bargain For a Robber

Maybe there is space in the political spectrum for a political party that:
  - Doesn't accept large donations from individuals in return for an inordinate influence (i.e. one greater than their vote share)
  - Doesn't accept corporate donations (large or small)
  - Has strict limits on the amount of contributions from non-corporates (small enough as to not effectively buy influence in the party)
  - Does not endorse or approve or affiliate with any superPACs.
  - Does not allow candidates to fund their own campaigns

Such a party would be funded by its members, and each member would have the right to vote for their candidate in closed primaries (you vote if you are a paid up member to reduce gaming by opponents).

The party would also sign a contract with all representatives that allowed their recall in the event that they decided to not abide by party constitution, although such recall would be subject to an appropriately high threshold - e.g. 80% of eligible primary voters demanding a recall (a high enough bar to prevent frivolous recalls).

Comment: Re: About right (Score 4, Insightful) 241

by vakuona (#49111625) Attached to: In Florida, Secrecy Around Stingray Leads To Plea Bargain For a Robber

You are over-thinking it here.

Threatening someone with a gun-shaped object should carry the same sentence regardless of whether it turned out to be a real gun or not.

Actually shooting someone with a gun should carry an even higher penalty. If you use a fake gun, you obviously don't get to shoot anyone with it, so you will naturally not be charged for shooting anyone, but you don't get to benefit from the fact that you misled your victims as to the ultimate level of violence you were able to commit.

Comment: Re:Submarines are the undisputed... (Score 1) 439

by vakuona (#49061035) Attached to: Will Submarines Soon Become As Obsolete As the Battleship?

Seeing as carrier groups obviously aren't designed to be covert, if I were designing the protection systems around the carrier group, I would literally bathe the surrounding ocean with sonar and every technology I can think of to ensure that nothing approaches without my knowing it. So I might have subs underneath to detect other subs, and they don't have to be silent. In fact, from a Sonar perspective, I would make them as "loud" as I can to make it clear that you cannot approach without giving away your position.

I suspect a carrier group generally represents the greatest concentration of ammunition and firepower on the face of the planet, which is why it is very difficult to attack it nowadays.

Comment: Re:AI is too unreliable (Score 1) 124

by vakuona (#49057187) Attached to: Programming Safety Into Self-Driving Cars

The really really bad idea is designing a system in which a human being who is not really involved in what is going on is asked, at a moment's notice, to take over. If the computer diagnoses a problem big enough, it should stop the car safely and let people out. That's all. No need to ask a person what to do. No need to continue. Computers do what people tell them to do. They don't make completely autonomous decisions.

There is actually a conflict between making the car better at resolving failure, and requiring a human to take over in corner cases. The better the car is at resolving failure, the less likely humans will be required to take over, and the less likely they will know what to do anyway.

Comment: Re:Representation Matters! (Score 1) 98

by vakuona (#49030873) Attached to: Spider-Man Finally Joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe

It wouldn't make sense for Sony to have a non-Peter Parker Spiderman in there, and I can also imagine that they will have demanded that they be allowed to cast their own Spiderman.

I am also sure they would have conditions about Spiderman's involvement in the film to make it worthwhile for them.

If not, it would be quite a strange arrangement for Sony.

Comment: Re:Sony License (Score 1) 98

by vakuona (#49030845) Attached to: Spider-Man Finally Joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe

From what I understand, its never, as long as Sony keeps producing the movies, Marvel doesn't get the rights back.

I can only imagine that Sony will have demanded some additional concessions on the rights they own, e.g. to allow them to take longer between films, in exchange for allowing Marvel to bring Spiderman to the MCU. if I were Sony, I would have asked for that.

As far as I understand, no money changes hands over this deal.

Comment: Re:The issue isn't sharing vs fame (Score 1) 551

by vakuona (#49019825) Attached to: RMS Objects To Support For LLVM's Debugger In GNU Emacs's Gud.el

Software has no intrinsic value. The value is derived from what the software can do for me.

And one could argue that money has no intrinsic value. The value is derived from what money can do for me.

Of course it's true, but completely missed the point. In fact, you can say that about anything that has value to anyone.

A really good example is oil. If combustion engines had not been invented, and other uses of oil had not been developed, then oil would be nigh on worthless. so oil doesn't have any intrinsic value either. And neither does just about anything really.

Comment: Re:The issue isn't sharing vs fame (Score 1) 551

by vakuona (#49019697) Attached to: RMS Objects To Support For LLVM's Debugger In GNU Emacs's Gud.el

However, some form of DOS is still useful today as part of an embedded real-time control system. But is everyone going to buy it? Not by a long shot. Is Microsoft making any money selling MS-DOS today? I seriously doubt it.

Value is linked to usefulness. DOS would have been useful to some computer use 30 years ago but no today, because it won't let the average computer user do what they would really most like to do, which is surf the internet, update Facebook and check emails. So yes, most users wouldn't find DOS valuable today, but that would have been different 30 years ago.

No, this is not the value of the software. This reflects only the market pricing mechanism. A consumer would find the next lowest priced software. It might be yet another free alternative, or it could be non-free but bundled with a paid operating system. If the next lowest priced alternative turns out to be unaffordable, I might choose not to buy it.

You are just describing the opportunity cost, which is a different beast. The opportunity cost just tells you how much more utility you get out of buying one rather than the other. And that is entirely consistent with my post. For example, if there are two pieces of software which have almost the same functionality, I might value them differently. Maybe I value software X at $250 and software Y at $200. Let's assume both are priced at $100. I would obviously buy X, because it is worth more to me. If the price of Y was dropped to $90, I would still buy X, because my gain from buying X for $100 is more (at $150) than the gain I would get from buying Y (now $110). (This is incidentally why dropping prices doesn't always work.) If however, the price of software Y were dropped to $40, then I would gain $160 from buying it compared to $150 from buying X. So I would then buy Y instead. This is simplistic, but that is what economics is about.

This is also why people will still buy Microsoft Office rather than download The additional value they get from MS Office is still greater than the value of (which is entirely free). This isn't to say that they are valuing either MS Office or correctly, just that this is how value and price interacts.

The value of anything to anyone absolutely is the amount you would pay for it, and that is not equal to the market price.

The market price is just the point at which the supplier and the market meet in the middle, which isn't necessarily equal to the value everyone who ends up buying the software values it at. In economics terms, the whole demand curve (or line) tells you how much different people value a good. If I think the value of a copy of Windows is $30, and Microsoft will only sell it for $100, then I will not buy it. If I believe it is worth $500, and Microsoft is willing to sell it to me for $100, then I would buy it. I would still buy it if it cost $200, or $300 or $400 or $500, but not at $600. That is basic economics.

Read up on the consumer surplus to understand the difference between the price that people buy a product at, and the value they get from it.

Incidentally, this is why the paradox of the value of water and diamonds isn't really a paradox at all. of course water is more valuable, but it is also more abundant and supplied at a lower price (or free even). However, its price is not equal to its value.

Comment: Re:The issue isn't sharing vs fame (Score 1) 551

by vakuona (#49017027) Attached to: RMS Objects To Support For LLVM's Debugger In GNU Emacs's Gud.el

Software itself isn't valuable. The value is what the software allows you to accomplish compared to those without this software could. If you look at it this way, the real value is in the person who knows how to develop software that works and fulfills a purpose. The software itself is just a byproduct.

Open source software projects can grow out of an arrangement where a developer worked as a consultant to solve a customer's problem. Some examples are Paul Vixie of ISC BIND and cron fame, Poul-Henning Kamp of Varnish fame, and many others.

The key to a software engineer's survival is not about making money selling software. It's about solving a problem to make money.

That is a ridiculous post which betrays a lack of understanding of basic economics. The valuation of Microsoft is proof positive that software has value. Basically, software (at least) has a market value as the revenue that Microsoft makes off Windows and Office attests to.

There is a difference between value and price. If you believe that the price of software is supposed to be zero, that is OK, but even if that were true, and software had zero cost, software would still have a non-zero value.

Basically, ask yourself how much you would pay to get a piece of software that you depend on today if you had woken up to find that the only way you could still use it (or any acceptable alternative, or better yet, if there was no acceptable alternative) was to pay for it. That would be the value of the software to you.

If software truly had no value, then no one would pay for it, no one would pay anyone to write or modify it, and software programming would not be a viable occupation. No one pays someone to produce something of no value! Google wouldn't pay programmers to produce web crawling software, and other database software to produce something of no value.

No one ever says, "Truck wheels are not valuable. The only value is what truck wheels allow you to accomplish compared to truckers without truck wheels".

Comment: Re:Ain't freedom a bitch... (Score 3, Interesting) 551

by vakuona (#49016045) Attached to: RMS Objects To Support For LLVM's Debugger In GNU Emacs's Gud.el

You may be right, but there is such a thing at making your grip on something so tight that it escapes you grasp (e.g.g if you grip dough too tightly).

LLVM is a good case in point. The GNU, via the GPLv3, has created a situation in which companies such as Apple who are not interested in the politics of Open Source or Free Software, and aren't seeking a competitive advantage in compilers became unwilling to work with the free software community because the free software community tried to do an embrace and extend on them.

As Linus pointed out, the GPLv2 license was a good license because it imposed fairly acceptable conditions on companies. The GNU thought they had the likes of Apple by the balls, so to speak, and they tried to squeeze. Apple and others (including the BSDs) simply went to LLVM, and it is looking like LLVM is going to surpass GCC in all metrics that matter.

In fact, Apple originally worked to relicense LLVM under GPLv2 with upstream GCC , but was denied by GCC developers. So GCC lost what was potentially a very good contributor Apple is now the largest company in the world - can you imagine how much better GCC could have been with a company the size of Apple working to improve the quality and performance of the compiler?

Now BSD and Mac OSX can be argued to have access to better compiler technology than GNU and Linux (although LLVM can be used under Linux). With Apple's support, free software could have been even further ahead, but politics ruled. The FSF/GNU could find itself made irrelevant if they continue to put petty politics and ideology above ensuring that free software is among the best software by engaging companies like Apple where it makes sense to do so.

Can you imagine if Apple had acted like GNU with respect to Samsung. Even when Apple was fighting Samsung on one hand, they were still prepared to buy a lot of gear off Samsung in a mutually beneficial relationship, and Samsung was willing to supply its biggest competitor with chips and other electronic gear that was going into products that were competing directly against its biggest moneymaker. Both companies, however, acted in a grown up manner to reach a mutually beneficial arrangement while continuing to kick lumps out of each other in the courts, in advertisements and in the markets. GNU acted all childish over LLVM and Apple's (and BSD and Linus) contributions to issues such as GPLv3 and accepting code that would enable GCC to work better for everyone, not just Apple.

Nothing is more admirable than the fortitude with which millionaires tolerate the disadvantages of their wealth. -- Nero Wolfe