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Comment: Results may be interesting. (Score 2) 332

by wvmarle (#49518701) Attached to: Update: No Personhood for Chimps Yet

The judicial action could force the university, which is believed to be holding the chimps, to release the primates

Release... Great idea - just tell me: how? Where?

Usually these animals are born in the lab and live in the lab until they die, or until they go to some kind of sanctuary or zoo. For obvious reasons they can't be released anywhere in the US - it's not where chimps naturally live. Even if released in natural chimp habitats, they'd die because they can't take care of themselves, or they may even get killed by the native chimps that don't like the intruders. They are simply fully dependent on their human caretakers, and need, even deserve, proper care to live out their lives peacefully.

Comment: Re:Loose procedures (Score 2) 81

by wvmarle (#49517271) Attached to: Baltimore Police Used Stingrays For Phone Tracking Over 25,000 Times

To me it is (or at least, should be) the modern equivalent of a wire tap where police investigators are listening in to someone's phone line.

For that reason it should come with the same set of checks and balances: a court warrant required (with maybe an exception for "emergency cases" which will have to be defined really well), and the requirement that only the phone for which the warrant is given can be listened in to, so no "collateral damage".

Comment: Loose procedures (Score 4, Insightful) 81

by wvmarle (#49517091) Attached to: Baltimore Police Used Stingrays For Phone Tracking Over 25,000 Times

It sounds to me like not only the police is wrong by applying for too many uses of the device (of course they do - it's their job to gather as much information about potential criminals as possible), also the courts appear to be wrong by not doing much evaluation of the requests. Now having to handle nine requests a day is a huge number as well (that's before accounting for holidays and weekends), yet no excuse for not following proper procedures.

From the face of it, the courts should be more strict. Take more time to properly evaluate each one, possibly causing a backlog, but that in turn should force the police to lower their number of requests to only the ones they believe are valid - and arguably the courts should be hiring more people to get the work done in a timely manner.

Comment: Re:What's bad about Uber drivers? (Score 2) 48

Good for you, as long as everything goes perfectly as expected you'll be fine.

But then you're involved in an accident, get hurt, and suddenly you find out that the driver's insurance won't pay out because you're a paying passenger and he doesn't have insurance coverage for that. In case of official taxis, you won't have such an issue, guaranteed. There is a reason taxi licenses and so are in place in many parts of the world, and it's not to prevent competition. It's to protect customers, and if done correctly (admittedly often not done so) can enhance competition even.

Complaints are indeed primarily about the company, and its total lack of respect for the law - indeed they often actively and intentionally break the law (like in Amsterdam). Its drivers often make less than normal taxi drivers after deduction of all their cost. Just two of the common complaints against Uber.

Comment: Re:rule of law (Score 1) 299

by wvmarle (#49503931) Attached to: Joseph Goebbels' Estate Sues Publisher Over Diary Excerpt Royalties

That's not what I said or meant.

You naturally hold the copyrights to your own work - so you can always publish it any way you like.

However if you start quoting other people's work in your own work, you may need a copyright license for those people's works - unless the quotes are so short they fall under fair use policies or so. And that appears to be the case here: the author used so much of someone else's copyrighted works (the diary of Goebbels in this case), that the copyright holders (Goebbels' estate) think it breaches copyright law, and on those grounds try to ban publication of the works in question. Simply removing/cutting down on those quotes should allow publication.

Comment: Re:Completely Open Source (Score 1) 271

by wvmarle (#49503103) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Features Would You Like In a Search Engine?

There are two issues with this.

Search indexes are very expensive to make - lots of data to download and analyse to come anywhere near reasonable coverage of what's out there. Someone has to pay for it.

The amounts of data involved are huge. By the time you're done downloading such an index, even assuming you've got sufficient storage at hand, it's horribly outdated.

There is a reason there are no recent small search start-ups: you have to be pretty big to even consider this. When Google started, the Internet was a fraction of the size it's now, and even then Google's founders could use the massive computing resources of their university. Google's index nowadays is so big that they can not search it entirely themselves: different geographical locations tend to give different search results for the exact same query, as you're searching different subsets of the database.

Comment: Re:rule of law (Score 2) 299

by wvmarle (#49502981) Attached to: Joseph Goebbels' Estate Sues Publisher Over Diary Excerpt Royalties

Research requires you to be able to buy a copy and read it, so you may use the information held in it. That's the case with lots of works out there, such as all scientific research publications. They all fall under copyright, which doesn't seem to hinder research all too much. Sure public domain and online access may be convenient, you can instead walk over to your local university library and read it there.

Copying and republishing excerpts from another work may be restricted under copyright, or may fall under fair use. This is a different matter, and still won't hinder research. Nor does it have anything to do with censorship.

The original author is just using words as "hindering research" and "censorship" to push his case, meaning to me he's probably broken copyright law and strongly feels himself he is indeed at the wrong side of the law.

Comment: Seems to be an already solved problem. (Score 1) 124

by wvmarle (#49499681) Attached to: Google Adds Handwriting Input To Android

Every day I'm on the MTR or the bus I see numerous people around me writing away on their phones. Handwriting input is the norm, not the exception. It seems to work pretty well, considering the very few corrections they have to make.

Or is recognising and distinguishing between those thousands if not tens of thousands of different Chinese characters really that much easier than the 26 letters (well, make that 52 to account for capitals) in our alphabet? I always thought they'd use handwriting input because it's so darn hard to input Chinese on a regular keyboard, let alone a mobile phone keyboard. In contrast, entering English on a mobile phone keyboard, combined with automatic corrections, works quite well for me, not as good or as fast as a real keyboard but I think I still type way faster than I could possibly write on a phone or other mobile device.

Comment: Re:I'm gonna go out on a limb. (Score 1) 291

by wvmarle (#49455333) Attached to: Cannabis Smoking Makes Students Less Likely To Pass University Courses

The real question is now: now much of the effect is from the actual consumption of alcohol/cannabis, and how much is from the time spent consuming it?

A night spent in a bar drinking means generally you don't spend that time studying, and often results in a night with too little sleep. Same for smoking pot. These long nights of partying, and as a result less time spent in your books, certainly must have an effect as well.

Comment: Re: Easy grammar (Score 1) 626

Easy spelling!

There are 26 letters in the English alphabet, but 44 phonemes. I'd start there. Expand the alphabet to 44 letters; one letter per sound and double le(tt)ers are not necessary. Thus no ambiguity on how to spell a word; you spell it like it sounds. It would be like a metric system for speaking/ that it makes sense. So "two" becomes "tu" or maybe just "2" (wi yuz tu karakters wen won wil du?), "too" becomes "also", and "to" becomes anything...maybe "tob".

You nicely illustrate how incredibly hard this is to do correctly.

The word "to" would have to become "tu" (certainly not "tob" as it would sound more like "tahb" - the "ah" sound as in the "won" you use for "one") to keep in line with your previous examples, as it's pronounced exactly the same as "too" and "two". Furthermore you shouldn't use "also" without pointing out that the "o" in that word has to become a new letter, as you have used the letter "o" already in "won" (as phonetic spelling of the number "one").

This is also ignoring the constant spelling updates you'd have to perform to keep track with changes in pronunciation of different words over time (which, in part, is why we have so many spellings in English that do not fully match current pronunciation), or regional differences in pronunciation of various words: which version of English would be the standard? You won't even be able to say "British" or "American" as neither has a standard pronunciation but comes with huge regional differences. Those spelling updates will seriously mess up reading as a large part of reading is done by recognising the word as a whole, rather than looking at and parsing individual letters.

On the other hand, some languages like Latvian have settled down on their spelling only quite recently, and it's possible for a non-speaker like me to read out Latvian text and have native speakers understand what I say, while I have no idea of the meaning of the words, just reproducing the sounds. The same supposedly works in Hungarian, and probably some more languages.

Comment: Re:Only Republicans are stupid enough... (Score 2) 318

by wvmarle (#49325221) Attached to: First Lawsuits Challenging FCC's New Net Neutrality Rules Arrive

A government's role should be: (pick one)

1. Break up monopolies, reduce barriers to market entry, and encourage competition, or
2. Regulate the behavior of monopolies.

Net Neutrality attempts to do #2.

3. All of the above.

Natural monopolies should be regulated. This includes utilities (power, water, telephone) that rely on physical infrastructure. The owner of the infrastructure (the cables, the pipes), should be strictly regulated - and where possible being forced to allow competitors on their infrastructure. Ideally, owners of infrastructure and service providers using that infrastructure are separate.

The most obvious and easy to understand example is roads. The government builds roads and bridges, and everyone can use those roads and bridges - either for free, or against a fixed cost which is the same for everyone. Every driver pays the same toll to cross a bridge, based only on things like size/weight/type of the vehicle and maybe the time of the day, regardless of which company he works for. It's the same for everyone, roads are neutral.

In Europe, this has gone so far as to decouple rail roads from rail transport providers, power lines from power suppliers, telephone lines from telephone/ADSL Internet suppliers, etc. I'll be the first to admit that it doesn't always go smooth and there are issues, but the idea is the correct one. It's just really hard to execute well. Net neutrality is also an issue there, though generally the governments are highly in favour of net neutrality, and in the end we'll have full separation between providers of physical infrastructure (the cables in the ground), network service providers (the ISPs providing connectivity), and content providers (the individual web sites).

That'd be the ideal situation.

Low barrier of entry to the content market (everyone can set up a web site and be sure that all their potential customers can actually reach that site on equal footing with all other sites) which of course enhances competition. Low barrier of entry to the service provider market, as everyone can rent the required connectivity for a fixed, known price.

Physical infrastructure is a natural monopoly, very high barrier of entry, and therefore has to be highly regulated. This is something that I consider a prime government task, be it done directly, through a SOE, by appointing a commercial entity to do it, or even by forcing a commercial entity to open up their existing networks to the competition.

Comment: A second language DOES change your world views (Score 2) 274

by wvmarle (#49280915) Attached to: Speaking a Second Language May Change How You See the World

If only because of the enhanced cultural exchanges, and expanded possibilities for travel!

It's just a pity that the world's de-facto common language (English) is so hard to learn well... still glad I managed to master it, if only as second language (out of four) for me.

Comment: Re:Most ambitious (Score 1) 132

by wvmarle (#49258137) Attached to: Self-Driving Car Will Make Trip From San Francisco To New York City

This handover from computer to human is what bugs me.

How to do this reliably?

Point in case: just yesterday I missed my bus stop on a routine commute, simply because I was too distracted by a stupid phone game. This is comparable to automated drives, as I do a stretch of city transport by hand (home to bus stop), there hop on the bus (human driven but from the passenger pov it could as well be a robot), take back control when I reach the exit point: press the button to get off and do the last bit of transit through city traffic by myself.

OK you can set an alarm - even for your bus stop there are phone apps that can do that - but what if the human doesn't react and the robot reaches the desired exit, or the end of the highway? No guarantee there is a place to stop (may be occupied by other soundly sleeping drivers).

Hacking's just another word for nothing left to kludge.