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Comment: Re:What's the problem? (Score 1) 52

by wumbler (#46234665) Attached to: Open Source — the Last Patent Defense?

Patent trolls aren't really a threat unless you are a public company or are trying to become one (especially IPO).

I don't know about that.

Especially smaller companies (even private ones) are at risks, since they are perceived as less willing to fight back: They don't have the deep pockets or well-staffed legal departments that larger companies have. Even small mom and pop shops have been the recipient of shake-down letters from patent trolls, offering some 'license fees' that are just low enough to be cheaper than an all out lawsuit.

Comment: Re:What's the problem? (Score 1) 52

by wumbler (#46234637) Attached to: Open Source — the Last Patent Defense?

Patent TROLLS are the aggressors, do you blame these companies
for planning ahead and preparing to defend themselves from bullies?

That misses the point!

Patents can be used only to stop someone else from producing a widget that violates your patent. However, patent TROLLS (almost by definition) don't produce anything, they just sue companies that DO produce stuff. Therefore, your own patents can never be used defensively against a patent troll: As non-producing companies they are definitely not violating your patents.

You can only use your own patents to defend yourself against a company that actually produces something. Maybe some of their products violate some of your patents. You can then cross license, or at least tell them to go away before you start a counter suit.

However, trolls don't have products and therefore don't offer any surface against which to launch a counter attack.

Comment: Re:Consider this... (Score 2) 134

by wumbler (#46152723) Attached to: NZ Govt May Gut Privacy Laws For US Citizens and Ex-Pats

So you want to keep having the privilege of maintaining the ability to come and go to the US, and do not wish to pay for that privilege?

Only crazy, totalitarian states would make you PAY "for the privilege" to return to your home country to which you still hold a passport. What world do you live in?

A free (!) country lets its citizens go and does not give them a hard time about it.

Freedom? Have you heard of it?

Comment: Re:Consider this... (Score 1) 134

by wumbler (#46152655) Attached to: NZ Govt May Gut Privacy Laws For US Citizens and Ex-Pats

Are you dense on purpose?

As many other posters already pointed out: It has nothing to do with paying more or less taxes. It has to do with (a) having complex and complictaded filing requirements, (b) risking heavy criminal fines for even the smallest mistakes, (c) being treated like a criminal even with no wrong doing, (d) suffering disadvantage for employement, banking, business opportunities because of this, (d) the US again appearing like an arrogant bully on the international stage.

You seem to think that people have to PAY for the right to return to their home country? Are you insane? What world do you live in? No normal, civilized country in the world does that, the US is the only one. It's the land of the free, right? Freedom should include the ability to come and go. Only totalitarian states will prevent their citizens from leaving, or - like in this case - give them a hard time because they chose to do so.

Comment: Re:Tax Dodgers? (Score 1) 134

by wumbler (#46152435) Attached to: NZ Govt May Gut Privacy Laws For US Citizens and Ex-Pats

Are you implying that people living overseas are tax dodgers? How ignorant! They may be married to someone from that country, may have found work there, or may just like it more there than in the US. There are tons of reasons to be a resident of another country, which have nothing to do with dodging taxes.

Besides: In many cases, the taxes in other countries are higher than in the US. No dodging there.

Comment: Re:Consider this... (Score 2) 134

by wumbler (#46150611) Attached to: NZ Govt May Gut Privacy Laws For US Citizens and Ex-Pats

This treaty is for people who want to have their cake and eat it.

This has NOTHING to do with "having the cake and eating it", as you said in in your boundless ignorance.

Ordinary US citizens who happen to be living in other countries, like NZ. They don't ask anything of the US, they don't have accounts there, they earn an honest living in their adopted country. No "Fat Cats", no tax cheats, nothing sinister going on. Yet, contrary to almost all civilized countries in the world, the US demands those people to continue to report and file their taxes in the US, forces them to fill out very complex tax forms (much more complex than what you get to fill out when living in the US), slaps them with hefty fines for even the slightest errors in filling out those forms, strong-arms other countries in spying on those US citizens...

Educate yourself on the matter before declaring your cluelessness to the world.

Comment: There are no "good guy" countries here (Score 5, Insightful) 169

by wumbler (#45697031) Attached to: France Broadens Surveillance Powers; Wider Scope Than NSA

I think what we have learned is that given the opportunity, no country's intelligence/police/security apparatus is truly more ethical than that of other countries. There's a huge difference between cheap, public words spoken by politicians and what's really going on behind the scenes. If they have the technical option, they will collect and spy and monitor whatever they can.

The NSA gets a bad rap, since (a) it has access to most information and thus is most scary and (b) in the US there is the constitution, which at least in principle should curtail certain government activities, giving critics something to use in their fight. In other countries there often aren't the constitutional documents, which aim to codify personal freedoms and liberties in the same way. Therefore, in the US the surveillance opponents at least have a document in their support that they can point at, while the same people in other countries often have no such thing. In that respect, the surveillance debate in the US could be more forceful with at least some ammunition for the opponents. In this regard, other countries aren't that lucky.

However, in the end it's all academic: Surveillance/intelligence agencies will do whatever they damn well feel like doing. Whatever local laws they have will matter little. These are agencies that have secrecy baked into their DNA. They know - for the most part - to keep their activities away from the public and also the politicians for that matter.

Pass whatever laws you want, it won't matter anymore.

Comment: Re:The Whole Issue (Score 1) 453

The constitution surely doesn't protect foreigners in a foreign country, it doesn't even even protect Americans at home. But US law will affect you no matter where you think you are safe.

What makes you think that it is law (US or otherwise), which is the driving force here? What makes you think it has to do anything with law or that those who apply such pressure or are willfully infringing on peoples' privacy care about something called 'the law'?

If the last few months have shown us anything, it is that the surveillance apparatus is entirely above the law or at least unconcerned about it. You can pass whatever law you want to 'reform the NSA' or whatever agency in whatever country you wish to insert here. It doesn't matter, since they will do whatever the heck they want anyway.

Comment: Re:Well, duh (Score 1) 129

by wumbler (#45628773) Attached to: Trans-Pacific Partnership Includes Unwanted Elements of SOPA

Just some clueless foreigner here with an honest question: Why does 2/3 not mean "two thirds"? Is this one of those things where 2/3 of all present (!) senators need to vote for it, so they put the vote up at some ungodly hour where only the few necessary hardlines will be present? Or do you have something else in mind?

Comment: The free and open Internet was a temporary anomaly (Score 1) 365

by wumbler (#45603453) Attached to: FCC Chair: It's Ok For ISPs To Discriminate Traffic

Over the last few years we have seen a concerted effort by corporations and government (even though, where's the difference these days anyway?) to bring an end to the "wild west" of a truly free and open Internet. The whole idea of normal individuals being able to say whatever they want and their message to be heard around the world...? Dangerous, let's stop that. The whole idea of small, independent companies disrupting established markets? Bad for the bottom line, let's stop that (it's been going on for too long already).

Let's add porn filters to protect the children! Of course, the same filter infrastructure can be used for other things as well, such as ... oh, I don't know... stop free and open discussion in forums, brand and block legitimate sites as criminal, stop people from sharing information, etc. We all know that this is NOT a coincidence!

The free and open Internet was nice as long as it lasted. I will always fondly remember living in a time when the Internet came to be and we looked at something truly unique and powerful, something capable of really making a difference in everyone's life, something that could fundamentally change society and could be used to make this world a little bit of a better.

But of course, in the end - as always - greed wins. The masses with a vague feeling of how things should be stand no chance against the focused and deliberate efforts of a few that know exactly what they want in order to line their pockets.

Comment: Re:Yes. (Score 1) 1216

by wumbler (#45508189) Attached to: Should the US Copy Switzerland and Consider a 'Maximum Wage' Ratio?

After all, it is not the CEO's who own corporations, but the shareholders. As such, it is the shareholders who ultimately decide upon the pay of the CEO. If the owners of a company decide that it is in the company's best interest to entice the top executives with $x, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Contrary to popular belief, the only way this is possible in the long run, is if the executive actually brings that worth to the corporation.

I'm not so sure about that. You talk about how an overpriced CEO is not sustainable in the long run. You also - correctly - said that it's the shareholders who pay the CEO. But since when are shareholders interested in the long run? Ok, some will invest for the long term, of course. But realistically, shareholders are interested in their own ROI, first and foremost, not the long-term health of the company.

The shareholders will approve of any CEO which they think will maximize their ROI. If this means destroying the company over the long term then many investors will be fine with it, as long as they make a good return before it all falls down. The long term health of the company, the well beeing of the workers, even the customers... it's all acceptable collateral damage in achieving that goal. The shareholders are generally in it for their own good, not for the good of the company.

I don't want to make blanket statements here: There's no doubt that there are also plenty of investors that do want to invest for the long term and would probably like to see the company succeed. And in many cases investors will have decided that a long term success of the company is the best way to achieve a good ROI for themselves. But there's rarely an emotional or compassionate connection to the company. Instead, it's mostly just about maximizing ROI. That's why they are investors.

So, don't count on the "shareholders" to magically only support CEO salaries that sustainable in the long-term. That's just not the case.

Comment: Re:Educational insitutions and vendors (Score 1) 126

by wumbler (#45492803) Attached to: Microsoft Certifications For High School Credits In Australia

Corporations generally donate to further their own agenda and for their own good. If they can use it to accomplish vendor lock-in then they will do so. Sometimes, they can only use it for some feel-good PR. The former is dangerous and should be resisted, just like a trojan horse. The latter is about the same as advertisement on "free" web sites: You accept it as necessary for the operation of the sites, but you mostly just ignore it.

You raised good points, so let me clarify: The different paragraphs talk about different examples of how corporations use donations to schools for their own benefit. When I mentioned the Microsoft example, I also mentioned the additional fact that their donations don't cost them much if anything. But I didn't mean to imply that this would be so for every company's donations. Clearly, someone donating hardware has a cost, no doubt.

But do I object do schools getting free hardware? Well, in the case of Apple, it wasn't just the hardware, but its own distinct eco system: The operating system, the software on it, it was all pretty much closed and Apple specific. So, there was definitely more than just "generic" hardware. Also, computers at schools were still quite rare at that time. Apple recognized that it could get in early and make a lasting impression on those students.

These days, if Dell or HP donate PCs they will probably just run Windows (which is more of a benefit to Microsoft than Dell and HP). So, the advantage for Dell or HP would be quite minimal: Nobody remembers their little logo on the back of the monitor if everyone's looking at the Windows on the front. Tough situation for Dell and HP, since they are merely producing commodities in that market.

That's like someone giving you free water when there is already plenty of water to choose from: You say "Thanks!", but then they're forgotten again.

Comment: Re:Don't like Microsoft?Come up with something bet (Score 1) 126

by wumbler (#45486887) Attached to: Microsoft Certifications For High School Credits In Australia

This is not a failing of the companies. When I said "shameful" in my earlier comments about this, the shame applied to the educational institutions.

The companies just do what they have to, somewhat without compassion, but still: Corporations are in it to make money, whether we like it or not. Fairness, morals, ethics and concern for the common good are completely irrelevant in that endeavour. We created corporations, now we need to live with the fact that they are going to do whatever it takes to make money, including using tactics we might consider "unfair". However, in some cases we have the option to resist their behaviour. This is one of those cases.

It's the schools who are too eager to go along with a commercial product. For some reason or the other: Sometimes outright bribery, sometimes ignorace, often a mixture of both. Unless you go to a trade school of some kind, I do not believe that it is the job of the public schools (and even universities) to push particular vendors' solutions on their students. Teaching and understanding the actual underlying fundamentals, issues and technologies is what should be paramount. And in the case of networking or any computer engineering/IT courses, these fundamentals are best illustrated with open source. Nobody says that the teacher can't also mention some examples of commercial implementations, but the exploration and understanding of the concept should not be tied to a particular vendor's product.

Comment: Educational insitutions and vendors (Score 5, Insightful) 126

by wumbler (#45484787) Attached to: Microsoft Certifications For High School Credits In Australia

Several years back, I gave a few guest lectures at some local univesities about network security. Intrusion detection was an important topic. There are some very nice open source IDS out there, Snort obviously being the most well known one. So, what does the university do? Instead of using Snort as a basic teaching tool, they instead went for a proprietary solution of some mid-teer vendor. As a result, they passed on a perfectly good opportunity to let students take a look 'under the hood' and see how the inside of such a system works by examining the source code, limiting them to just fiddling with the UI of the proprietary vendor. Shameful!

In the local press we can always read wonderful accounts how Microsoft "donated" millions of dollars worth of software to local schools. Of course, it's never reported that there is hardly any cost to Microsoft in doing so, definitely not millions, and that in return they get well-trained Microsof-monkeys entering the work force, knowing and demanding to only work with Mircosoft tools. Shameful!

It began a long time ago when Apple started to be "generous" with discounts and donations to schools. Microsoft and other vendors are following this "proud" tradition: Schools miss the chance to teach actual understanding of fundamental principles and instead degenerate their courses into nothing more than vendor training. There is too much lobbying, wining and dining and backroom dealing going on here. Where open source should make huge inroads, instead the vendors are doing their best to lock in entire future generations.

Each honest calling, each walk of life, has its own elite, its own aristocracy based on excellence of performance. -- James Bryant Conant