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Comment: Re:Wholesale prices (Score 1) 60

by wvmarle (#49749185) Attached to: Australian ISP Offers Pro-bono Legal Advice To Accused Pirates

Oh, now that'd be great! That'd allow me to take the Linux kernel, redistribute it in my devices with enhancements and whatnot and without providing the source code.

Do come after me, I'll instantly plead guilty and my cost is limited to just a stamp. Because as the wholesale value of Linux is $0.00, the maximum amount they can sue me for is $0.00

Do you really look forward to that? Without any punitive damages copyright will become a free for all. That includes all GPLed software - after all remember that our beloved GPL stands and falls with strong copyright laws. This includes serious consequences for breaking that law. As it stands in Australia, there are effectively no deterrents for keeping on the correct side of copyright any more.

Comment: Re:That's important here in Canada, too (Score 1) 60

by wvmarle (#49749169) Attached to: Australian ISP Offers Pro-bono Legal Advice To Accused Pirates

I have to disagree with you here. Those amounts are penalties for copyright infringement. Having to pay no more than retail value of the downloaded copy is no deterrent, so worthless as penalty.

The real issue with the US damages amount is the actual amount. A couple thousand dollars fine for a few dollars worth of retail value is too much. More reasonable would be something like a factor of 20-50 on the retail value. Sufficient to act as deterrent for would-be infringers, not enough to bankrupt most people (download 20 songs worth $0.99 each - get fined no more than 20x50x0.99=$990 - an amount that's almost certainly painful for most, but not destructive).

The same can be applied for commercial infringement, no need to distinguish. Distribute 1,000 CD's, worth $20 each? You may have a fine of at least 20x20x1,000 = $400,000. And then I'm at the low end of both penalties, and number of infringements. Commercial pirates probably go for the tens of thousands if not more. I'd also assume judges will go for the lower factor for personal downloaders and the higher factor for those that make money with their infringement, the opposite of what I used for my calculations.

Comment: Re:Anyone surprised? (Score 1) 60

by wvmarle (#49749131) Attached to: Australian ISP Offers Pro-bono Legal Advice To Accused Pirates

Siding with the shady business means each case is a 10-minute job (possibly less) by some low-paid employee to get the details they want.

Siding with the customer means each case is many hours of work by high paid lawyers.

You need to have a hell of a lot more instances of the first case to make the second case the more economical option for the company. Therefore many companies will choose the first - especially if there are already laws in place that tell them they probably have to (meaning a most likely lost battle: you lose your lawyer fees and still have to pay the low-paid employee to get the requested information), and the political climate of their country leans towards the copyright holders' interests.

Comment: Re:Pro-bono? (Score 1) 60

by wvmarle (#49749121) Attached to: Australian ISP Offers Pro-bono Legal Advice To Accused Pirates

Can't compare with insurers. They have lawyers to figure out who of the two sides is liable for a certain damage - and with it, who is going to pay for it. So paying those lawyers is meant to lower the overall payouts for the insurance company, basically by getting the other side to pay.

In this case I can't think of any direct benefit for the ISP. There may be a benefit of attracting more customers or so, but these lawyers will never lower the cost of any payout for the ISP, as it's never the ISP but always the customer who in the end has to pay the settlement.

Comment: Re:Difficult? (Score 3, Informative) 152

by wvmarle (#49672631) Attached to: The Best Way To Protect Real Passwords: Create Fake Ones

Testing password against local file: about 1 microsecond.

Testing password by trying to login to Facebook, Slashdot, Yahoo, etc: about 1 second.

So if anything it's going to cut down your password test rates from a million a second to one a second. That's already a great hurdle for password crackers. This even before any rate-limiting by those websites kicks in.

Comment: Someone is doing something really wrong (Score 2) 167

by wvmarle (#49670761) Attached to: How Spotify Can Become Profitable

Music with the occasional advertisement. Isn't that exactly what traditional radio has been doing for the past decades? Playing music for people to enjoy (broadcast for free), usually with some talk in between by a dj announcing the songs, telling funny things, doing interviews, etc. And most of those radio stations managed to make a decent profit out of it.

Here we have Spotify, doing effectively the same but broadcasting on the Internet rather than the airwaves. Playing music interspersed with advertisements, broadcast for free for anyone who wants to tune in to.

Radio stations have an expensive, power hungry transmitter to pay for. Spotify just needs an Internet connection (I suspect this to be cheaper).

Radio stations are hiring DJs, the more popular ones demanding high salaries. Spotify doesn't have DJs.

Radio stations have to maintain a studio building for the DJs and other staff to do their work. Spotify just an office and a rack in a data centre.

Radio stations are usually limited to a relatively small geographic reach due to the physics of radio waves. The Internet has no boundaries. Larger reach means more potential value for advertisers.

From the face of it, Spotify has many advantages compared to traditional radio stations. Lower overhead, larger potential audience so more advertising revenues. So how is it that Spotify can't keep up? Is the competition of traditional radio really so strong?

Comment: Prediction vs forecast - the article gets it wrong (Score 4, Interesting) 94

by wvmarle (#49662411) Attached to: Can Earthquakes Be Predicted Algorithmically?


With the recent Nepal earthquake claiming more than 6,000 lives, many of us have often wondered why earthquakes cannot be predicted the same way as Tsunamis or cyclones are predicted?

This already tells a lot on how much the authors of the article know about forecasting vs predicting - this opening line is wrong in so many ways. Tropical cyclones (which grow into typhoons aka hurricanes), tsunamis, tornadoes and other such natural events can not be predicted any more accurate than earthquakes.

Tropical cyclones can be predicted with a similar accuracy as earthquakes: this are the key areas, and they happen with that frequency. That's how much you can predict a cyclone to happen: Hong Kong is affected by about eight tropical cyclones per year, and about two a year will give rise to a T8 or higher signal. That's predicting: we've had years with five such typhoons hitting, and years without any hitting the city. When a cyclone forms (which is never predicted, only observed as it happens - like an earthquake is observed as it happens), meteorologists indeed are able to forecast with reasonable accuracy where it will head, and what strength it takes. This usually leaves a few days for people to react.

Tsunamis can be predicted with even less accuracy: when an earthquake or similar event has happened the presence of a tsunami can be measured, and a quick forecast can be made of when and where it will hit shorelines, and an alert may be issued. This leaves usually a few hours to half a day for people to react.

Tornadoes form without much warning, leaving often mere minutes for people to get out of the way and into shelters - if the alarms sound at all. They, too can not be predicted.

Earthquakes happen so fast, and end so fast, that there is nothing to forecast, no alarm to sound when it happens. By the time an alert is out, the quake is pretty much over.

And there we have the difference between prediction and forecasting. Forecasting is a lot more accurate by nature, as it is reacting to what is already happening, and works quite well for following slow processes such as the formation of a tropical cyclone. I'm used to know about an incoming typhoon a few days ahead, so plenty of time to prepare. Forecasting earthquakes, well, that doesn't work like that.

Comment: Re:How big are these trains? (Score 1) 515

When you have a dedicated line like that, you'd likely want to run trains ever 15-30 mins or so. Which sounds reasonable for the passenger numbers you give (every 10-15 mins during rush hour would be a reasonable frequency). That's at least how it's done in other parts of the world.

Comment: Re:More than $100 (Score 1) 515

Put in some long distance, high speed, overnight(!) trains in the mix.

Any trip longer than 7-8 hours is great for overnight. A 10-12 hour trip is even better. Like your coast-to-coast trip, 2,000 miles at 200 mph. About 12 hours including stops. Get on the train, have a relaxed dinner, go to bed, next morning you get up, have breakfast, and you arrive at your destination. Well rested thanks to your moving hotel.

Try that by plane - even with a 5-hour flight time and just three hours of additional time wasted at the airports, you'll have to leave early afternoon and get a hotel at destination to make your next day morning's meeting.

Comment: Re:Hostility to debate (Score 1) 179

by wvmarle (#49644419) Attached to: Is Facebook Keeping You In a Political Bubble?

Having said all that, I find pretty much the same thing here on Slashdot and on most on-line fora. I just don't get the impression that many people see debate as a constructive way of testing one's beliefs and ideas.

Not just on the Internet. It's nothing new.

People tend to visit online forums they like, and political forums are chosen on the ones that support their views (e.g. anti-vaxxers won't visit pro-vaxxer's sites). Before that, people chose the TV channel to watch based on the ones that best supported their views. Before that, it was the newspapers.

Slashdot is to me a bit of an exception as it's a tech site with a primary tech audience that's doing quite some political stories, so the bias in audience is not too political.

How come financial advisors never seem to be as wealthy as they claim they'll make you?