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Comment: Re:Kind of reminds me of (Score 1) 264

by zzatz (#40203527) Attached to: DirecTV CEO Scoffs At Competition From Apple TV

PC has two meanings. It originally stood for "Personal Computer", back in the days when it referred to an Apple II or TRS-80. Then IBM entered the home market and named their first model the "IBM PC". That created confusion, with people using "PC" as shorthand for "IBM PC compatible". IBM gave later models other names, but the damage was done. Now IBM no longer sells personal computers for you desktop or laptop, but the ambiguous name lingers.

The quote clearly refers to the original meaning, personal computer. He's comparing to classes of devices, phones and personal computers, not specific brands or types of each.

In today's market, the distinguishing feature is not compatibility with an ancient IBM model, but that a particular computer runs Microsoft Windows. That's a better label than PC. Mac vs. Windows (implied 'computer') makes sense. Mac vs. PC doesn't, not if you unpack it to Personal Computer.

Comment: Re:GPL2 vs GPL3 (Score 1) 104

by zzatz (#40163823) Attached to: SFC Expands GPL Compliance Efforts To Samba, Linux, and Other Projects

I agree that the correct answer is "Fuck Hollywood". I don't have a Tivo, I built a MythTV box that records free over-the-air broadcasts. I haven't been to a movie or had cable for years. Hollywood doesn't get my money.

So my question for you is, why do you shoot the messenger? You asked a question, I answered it, and you call me an apologist. Fuck you. I told you that I think DRM is a mistake. Don't you understand the difference between an explanation and a justification? I find that I can make better arguments against positions that I disagree with if I make the effort to understand those positions. For example, if you want to end the War on Drugs, you need to understand why others support it. It's not going to end because you oppose it, it will end when you remove the reasons others support it.

Understanding why people do bad things is important. It is not an endorsement of bad things.

Comment: Re:GPL2 vs GPL3 (Score 1) 104

by zzatz (#40156431) Attached to: SFC Expands GPL Compliance Efforts To Samba, Linux, and Other Projects

Why? No one has ever explained to me just why a company wants to Tivoize Linux?
How does keeping me from changing the code on a device I've purchased help the manufacturer's bottom line?

You need to look at entire ecosystem, not just the box maker. People don't buy hardware because they admire the hardware, they buy hardware to accomplish a task. For Tivo and others, that task is delivering content. The content providers require control over delivery; they want you to be able to watch a recording but not transfer the recording. That requires locked-down systems. Which sells more? Open systems that cannot record HBO, or locked systems that can?

I think DRM is a mistake, but I don't rule Hollywood. As long as Hollywood wants DRM, the ability to play Hollywood content is more important than GPLv3 licensing.

Comment: Re:Who's Running Corporations? (Score 2) 107

by zzatz (#39990239) Attached to: Resumegate Continues At Yahoo: Thompson Out As CEO, Levinsohn In

Not only did he lie about something easy to check, he lied about something he didn't need to. No one hires a CEO based on academic credentials. Executives are hired for their business experience.

I'm still trying to sort out whether Yahoo is dropping him because he lied, or because he's bad at lying.

Comment: Re:Not "linearly" (Score 2) 582

by zzatz (#39747351) Attached to: IBM Creates 'Breathing' High-Density Lithium-Air Battery

Direct current flows through the entire cross section, so area counts. Alternating current induces forces which push the current towards the outside. The dimensions where this skin effect is strong enough to consider depend on frequency. For 60Hz, you can ignore skin effect for currents less than about 100A.

Comment: "Did not monetize" means "No money for parasites" (Score 1) 288

by zzatz (#39702577) Attached to: Paramount Claims Louis CK "Didn't Monetize"

It's simple. How much the artist made doesn't count. How much did the bankers and lawyers make?

There are three groups involved in the entertainment business: people who do the entertaining, people who are entertained, and the gatekeepers who prevent us from finding each other unless they get most of the money. Louis CK didn't pay the gatekeepers, so he failed to monetize.

Comment: Re:not sure why the negative comments (Score 1) 252

by zzatz (#39683979) Attached to: FBI Wants To "Advance the Science of Interrogation"

Interrogation does not include coercion. I keep trying to explain that to you. All interrogation includes is asking questions. That's what the word means.

Should I worry about coercion? Of course. Should I worry about interrogation? No, ask away, I don't have to answer. Interrogation is not another word for coercion, interrogation does not include coercion. We have separate words for separate concepts.

The combination of interrogation with coercion is bad. Two separate words for two separate concepts. It's not the interrogation that makes the combination bad, it's the coercion. We don't have a name for that combination. If we want to be accurate, if we want to be precise, we need to use both words when describing that combination.

People are sloppy. Sometimes they misuse a word as shorthand for a longer description. Using "interrogation" as shorthand for "coerced interrogation" is a misuse. You can tell from context when people are misusing words like this, and if it isn't clear, you should assume the proper definition. When the FBI says "advance the science of interrogation", they mean that they want to know how to ask better questions. Asking questions is an art. Some people are better at it than others. The FBI would like to add a little science to that art, so they can train their people to ask questions that get them better answers. There's nothing wrong with that, there's no threat in that. I used to provide technical support to sales, so I went to many sales training classes. Some of those classes taught me how to ask better questions. What's wrong with getting a better understanding of what the customer needs?

Your concerns are legitimate. But you're using the wrong words for them. You shouldn't fear interrogation. You should fear beatings, coercion, and torture. It hurts when you are beaten during interrogation. But the interrogation doesn't hurt, it's the beating that hurts. You can be beaten without any questions being asked. That's not interrogation, that's just a beating. Please use the proper words. Don't say interrogation when you mean coercion. Don't say interrogation when you mean torture. Interrogation is not painful, interrogation is not harmful, interrogation is not evil, interrogation is not immoral. We have words for inflicting pain, words for causing harm, words for evil and words for immoral. Use those words when that's what you are talking about. When you use the wrong words, you enable those who commit evil to hide behind safe words. Don't call torture interrogation, call it torture. Don't call waterboarding interrogation, call it torture. Don't help evil bastards hide behind euphemisms, use the proper words. Interrogation is a word for a respectable activity. Don't use it for despicable actions, use the proper words that make it clear that the actions deserve contempt.

There are other ways people misuse language to enable evil. A reporter should not say that the suspect resisted arrest. That's an opinion, not a fact. The reporter should say that the suspect was injured while he was being arrested. That's a fact, not an opinion. The reporter should say that the suspect was charged with resisting arrest. That he was charged is a fact, and it doesn't assume that he is guilty of the charge. Maybe he did resist, maybe the injuries couldn't be avoided, or maybe a dirty cop took out his frustrations on the suspect. Sloppy language hides the injury, sloppy language assumes guilt, sloppy language enables dirty cops. Accurate, precise language makes facts available. That's what I'm asking for. Don't say interrogation when you mean something else.

Comment: Re:not sure why the negative comments (Score 1) 252

by zzatz (#39681007) Attached to: FBI Wants To "Advance the Science of Interrogation"

"Tell us what you know" IS interrogation.

I don't think you know what the word means. It means asking questions, making inquiries.

Interrogation does not mean coercion. It does not means making threats. It does not mean beating people up. It does not mean torture. It means asking questions.

Let me give you a few examples. Your neighbors get into a fight one night. It's 2AM and they're standing in the middle of the road screaming at each other. Someone calls the police. The police show up, separate the husband and wife, and take the man down to the station for questioning. The police use rather precise jargon for each step in the process. First, the police detain the husband. Detain, not arrest, because arrest means charging with a crime. They don't yet know if he should be charged, or she should be charged, but they will detain one or both. Detain means to hold. Detain does not mean arrest. Detain does not mean question. Detain does not mean handcuff, which brings up another term: restraints.

Next, the police transport him. In other words, they put him in the back of a police car and take him to the station. Then they interrogate him. They ask him questions. He doesn't need to answer, other than to identify himself.

At any point, they could have beat him. They could have beat him while they were detaining him. They could have beat him while they were putting him in the car. They could have beat him while they were asking questions. But none of the words mean beat; detain does not mean beat, transport does not mean beat, interrogate does not mean beat. The fact that two actions can happen at the same time does not make the words we use for those actions interchangeable. You can be tortured at the same time as you are being interrogated, and you can be eating a meal at the same time as you are being interrogated. Interrogation refers to the questioning, not the eating or torture.

Interrogation is the act of asking questions or inquiring.

Comment: Re:My rant (Score 1) 252

by zzatz (#39670865) Attached to: FBI Wants To "Advance the Science of Interrogation"

You left out an important word in Purpose 1: to obtain *false* information. Torture is used to get the 'right' answer, where 'right' means the answer that serves the torturer's agenda. Torture actively interferes with getting accurate information and encourages false information. Victims will say anything to make the torture stop. The torture doesn't stop with the first thing the victim says, it continues until the torturer hears what he wants to hear.

Otherwise, I agree with your three purposes. States often indulge in the first (coercing false testimony) and second (fear as an instrument of control). Like you, I'll ignore sadism; it's usually personal rather than institutional.

Comment: Re:Already exists... (Score 2) 252

by zzatz (#39670721) Attached to: FBI Wants To "Advance the Science of Interrogation"

The FBI has learned this lesson. They want to get better at it. The US military has learned this lesson. They want to get better at it. I've talked with a US Army trained interrogator, and he was trained to make the subject comfortable and become his friend.

But in any organization, there are those with their own agendas. Some cops know that Joe Blow is a thief, has gotten away with stealing many times, and they don't really care if he's guilty of this specific robbery. Those kind of cops will coerce a confession. Those kind of cops don't want the truth, they want a confession even if it's not true.

When powerful people want lies, they can find people willing to beat lies out of people. FBI agents want facts, not lies, and are trained to do proper interrogations. The same is true for the US military and the CIA. But corruption happens in every country, sometimes more than others, sometimes less, but it always happens. Most of the people who work for the FBI, the CIA, or the US military want the truth. But most is not all, not in the US, not in the NL, not in any country.

Comment: Re:not sure why the negative comments (Score 2) 252

by zzatz (#39670587) Attached to: FBI Wants To "Advance the Science of Interrogation"

Because technical measures don't provide everything you might want to know. Because the government can't see everything. Because it is often easier, cheaper, and more effective to simply ask questions.

The bartender might remember what my favorite beer is. I suppose the bar could invest in computers and data mining software to analyze my past purchases. Or the bartender might take a few seconds to ask me what I'd like. Sometimes human intelligence works better than technical means.

Keep in mind that most interrogation isn't about you. They want to know what you know about someone else. The police might want to know if you saw or heard anything before your neighbor's wife disappeared. How they ask, what they ask, makes a difference in the quality of the data you provide. For example, witnesses should be separated before they can talk to each other, and they should be questioned separately. That's not just to prevent conspiracy, it's mostly because they want to know what *you* saw or heard, not what you remember from talking with the other witnesses. Memory is funny. Our memories of actual events are much dimmer than our memories of discussing those events. If you thought you saw a white Camaro, and Fred thought he saw a silver Mustang, the cops want to know that. They don't want to know that you and Fred talked about it and agreed that it must have been a white Mustang.

You want to know how drug dealers get caught? Usually, it's because somebody talked. Small dealer got a lighter sentence, or got off completely, in return for fingering his supplier. Yeah, sometimes a dog might sniff out drugs. Yeah, sometimes a wiretap might reveal something. But most police work amounts to talking to people, and knowing how to talk to people more effectively is a worthy goal.

Comment: Re:And you don't understand risk (Score 1) 292

by zzatz (#39406683) Attached to: Time to Review FAA Gadget Policies

We do know the problem. Personal electronics devices can radiate unintended signals that interfere with navigation and communications system signals.

Here's the part you keep ignoring: they interfere with the SIGNALS. It's not a lack of shielding in the aircraft gear. You can't run a shielded cable from the airport to the approaching plane. The fundamental issue is personal devices which emit at frequencies used by aircraft.

We could tighten the limits on allowed emissions by devices. The current regulations balance the amount and type of interference with the cost of reducing emissions. All of the cheap and easy ways to reduce emissions are already used. Tighter limits means higher prices for consumer electronics.

We could replace our ILS systems with new technology that's harder to jam. That would cost a bundle, and your tax dollars would pay for it.

Or we could turn off personal devices during takeoff and landing. That's by far the cheapest solution.

Comment: Re:About time common sense prevailed! (Score 2) 292

by zzatz (#39406391) Attached to: Time to Review FAA Gadget Policies

Superheterodyne receivers have a local oscillator which is mixed with signal from the antenna to shift the signal down to the intermediate frequency. Nearly all receivers work this way.

There might be leakage from the local oscillator. The the stage that mixes the LO with the incoming signal doesn't just mix with the desired signal, it mixes with every signal that reaches it, shifting them all to new frequencies. So a circuit designed to receive one frequency may be transmitting, weakly, on other frequencies.

In addition, personal electronics rarely consist of only a receiver. Digital circuits generate a lot of radio noise. Yes, they are supposed to be shielded to keep that noise inside the device, but some gets out.

We could solve this by replacing the instrument landing systems with newer technology that's more resistant to interference. That would cost a lot, and your taxes would pay for it. We could tighten the standards for emissions from personal electronics, if you don't mind doubling or tripling the price. Or we could turn off devices during takeoff and landing, which is both cheap and effective.

Comment: Re:Enough Already (Score 1) 307

by zzatz (#39236543) Attached to: How Steve Jobs Patent-Trolled Bill Gates

Yeah, all trolls are non-practicing entities. That's makes them trolls rather than some other form of patent abuser.

Unisys isn't a troll. They published a paper about LZW without noting that they had applied for a patent. You might consider that abuse of the patent system; I certainly do. But it's a different type of abuse than the type called trolling.

Calling all abusers of patents trolls is the same as calling everyone who has sex outside of marriage a prostitute. Yes, prostitutes have sex outside of marriage. So do people who aren't prostitutes. A prostitute is someone who has sex with nearly anyone in exchange for money. It isn't the sex that defines a prostitute, it is that the key factor in choosing an acceptable partner is money. That's what distinguishes a prostitute from a groupie; the key factor in choosing a partner for a groupie is fame. Two different words for two different groups, groups with some similarities, but the differences are important enough to use different words.

Yes, some Bible-thumping preacher may call any woman who has sex outside of marriage a whore, but that's a rhetorical tactic to shut down rational discussion. Is that what you want? To shut down rational discussion about patents? You can make a good case that Unisys abused its patent on LZW. You can make a good case that Microsoft abuses its patents. You can make a good case that Apple abuses it patents. But when you label them trolls, you devalue your own argument, for they they don't meet the definition of patent trolls. Sure, troll is a nicely emotional description, but isn't your argument stronger when it's accurate?

C'est magnifique, mais ce n'est pas l'Informatique. -- Bosquet [on seeing the IBM 4341]

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