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Slashback

Slashback: Agenda, Reproduction, Aesthetics 253

Lots of updates, amplifications and followups in tonight's Slashback. Clones are on the way, the Agenda Linux-based PDA isn't quite dead, Gates' testimony is online, (surprize!) Hollings' so-called privacy bill could have a very different upshot, and much much more. Read on below for the details.

I can't be dead -- I still have batteries! Bill Kendrick writes: "Just when you thought the first Linux-based PDA was dead and gone, someone announces a compatible version, the STVR3 from Softfield Technologies (who actually did the hardware design for the original AgendaVR3). Only $105 for the 8MB, and $135 for a new 16MB version. Not bad if you want a bash prompt in your pocket, and can't afford the $500 for a Zaurus!"

De gustibus non est disputandum. An Anonymous Coward writes: "Mosfet has posted a reply to Bart Decrem's interview regarding Bart's comments on KDE and its looks. Mosfet explains how KDE has a very elegant system for users and developers using the flexibility of C++ and Qt, which creates a more consistent look and feel. He makes many good points that developers and users often disregard when considering desktop environments and their toolkits. Good read, expecially for those who participate in the 'Desktop Wars.'"

Borrowed at gunpoint, but spent much more freely. blankmange writes: "CNet is carrying a followup to a story that was posted here not too long ago. The State of California apparently ordered too many licenses for Oracle's database software: 'A top official in California Gov. Gray Davis' administration has resigned in a growing controversy over a $95 million software contract with Oracle. Barry Keene, director of the state's Department of General Services, quit after a highly critical state audit said the contract--awarded without competitive bids and for software that is little used--could cost taxpayers $41 million.' Sounds like there may be more resignations and a further investigation."

I wish Gary Trudeau would run a few strips skewering these presumptuous bureaucrat wastrels, prodigal even by the standards of the public trough.

Welcome to my secret underground lair. ceswiedler writes: "Salon is running a story that Sen. Hollings' new Online Personal Privacy Act 'would place a congressional stamp of approval on precisely the kinds of practices that purveyors of spyware are eager to engage in.' The writer is particularly concered with the 'nonsensitive' information clause, which is 'a huge gaping loophole' for companies like KaZaA and Brilliant Digital."

Science greatly ups my odds of reproducing. Transcendent writes: "I just recently read an article at SpaceDaily about how there are three women due to give birth to clones. Italian Professor, Severino Antinori, told reporters that two of the women were from the former Soviet Rebublic, and one from an Islamic country. They're keeping specific details from the public, but it's still a huge shake to an ever-changing legal, scientific, and moral society."

A bedtime story for very, very bad children. tulare writes: "Microsoft is hosting Bill Gates' written testimony online. At 42,000 words, it's not neccessarily light reading, but to their credit, it is nicely indexed. Probably a must-read." Also good for European insomniacs to start boring through.

Lobby your library. Lots of readers inquired where they could find copies of The Computer and the Skateboard . Filmmaker Paul David writes: "DVD copies of this movie will be ready to ship in mid-may. The Cinema Guild website will be e-commerce ready by June 1. If you would like to order a copy before June 1, The Cinema Guild will take your order over the phone: (800) 723-5522 or (212) 685-6242. dvds for home use are $59.95. vhs copies (for home use) are available for $79.95."

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Slashback: Agenda, Reproduction, Aesthetics

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  • by Bowie J. Poag ( 16898 ) on Monday April 29, 2002 @07:05PM (#3432870) Homepage


    Does "Sharp Zaurus" sound like something a Mighty Morphin Power Ranger would have?

    Cheers,
  • I sort of was suspicious that Hollings, the man who would give us the SSSSSSSSSSSCA (how ever many S's that is) would suddenly introduce a bill that would make sense to technologists.

    So I'm feeling redeemed that someone found a "gotcha" in the fine print of the new bill.

    • He should have the non-private information in his life posted to the 'net, then he can see and feel the effects of his proposed legislation.

      After a few questions at a press conference about his personal shopping habits, he should wise up fairly quickly.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 29, 2002 @07:13PM (#3432900)
    I was at Microcenter today. In the clearance section of the book department were stacks of Gates's book Business @ the Speed of Thought -- two bucks a pop and no takers. I wonder who the F**K thought up that corny title. It probably was an MS think tank composed of 100K/year MBAs.

    But for his money, why anyone would care about Gates's thoughts on anything is beyond me. He is sort of like a third world despot with a couple nuclear weapons. If it weren't for the weapons, no one would give a flying F**K what he had to say. I'm mean, hey, it's not like Gates is an Einstein. Say what you will about Richard Stallman, people listen to RMS for his provocative ideas, not because he wields some great financial power.

    • Reading the various documents by Stallman, I've come to the conclusion that he's every bit as delusional as Gates. To Gates' tinpot dictator, RMS makes a great Marxist revolutionary, but his tactics are flawed by petty things like the GPL.

      The GNU General Public License [opensource.org], to put it in one word, sucks. Much better licenses exist, ranging from the Mozilla Public License [opensource.org] to the University of Illinois/NCSA Open Source License [opensource.org]. Because of Stallman's inane "demand" (we'll call it) to use nothing but the GPL, or to assign all IP rights to his Free Software Foundation [fsf.org], he scares away many of those thinking that open source might be the solution they're looking for.

      It is perhaps best for the Open Source Revolution (if it still is a revolution) that both Microsoft (with Bill Gates) and the FSF (with Stallman) go away and never return.
  • Privacy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EricBoyd ( 532608 ) <mrericboyd @ y a h o o . c om> on Monday April 29, 2002 @07:14PM (#3432906) Homepage
    Privacy is one of those issues where you should watch what people do, not what they say. Everyone *says* they value their privacy online and off. But almost everyone also gives away their privacy for the smallest benefit - like 5% discounts at your local grocery store, in exchange for them tracking everything you ever buy from them...

    I'm convinced that until people actually start acting the way they talk, privacy online and offline will continue to get worse.

    **If you value your privacy, don't give it up for small discounts, or extra convenience, or anything!**

    Websurfing done right! StumbleUpon [stumbleupon.com]
    • Re:Privacy (Score:5, Informative)

      by fahrvergnugen ( 228539 ) <fahrvNO@SPAMhotmail.com> on Monday April 29, 2002 @07:28PM (#3432954) Homepage

      **If you value your privacy, don't give it up for small discounts, or extra convenience, or anything!**

      Or even better, just lie to them.

      When my grocery store raised the prices 10% and then offered me a 5% discount if I'd get a membership card, I just lied on the application. According to my card, my 20something white male self is actually a 60-year-old black mother of 6 grown children named Frieda.

      The best way to sabatoge that kind of invasive system is to simply feed it bad data. Enough bad data in the database, and it becomes useless for predicting the buying habits of my demographic.
      • Re:Privacy (Score:3, Funny)

        by quokka70 ( 175988 )

        According to my card, my 20something white male self is actually a 60-year-old black mother of 6 grown children named Frieda.


        Why would anyone name all 6 of their children Frieda?

      • But they can still link the club card to you via the info on your credit/debit card. Since the credit/debit card is more likely to contain your correct info, if I were running their IT, I'd set it up to automatically link the names or some such if the name on the club card didn't match the name on the debit card.

        This can be defeated if you regularly ask for a new card or swap cards with your friends. I've got Karl Marx on a Kroger barcode. Anyone wanna trade for him?
        • Re:Privacy (Score:3, Informative)

          by rgmoore ( 133276 )
          But they can still link the club card to you via the info on your credit/debit card.

          So pay cash. It's not that hard, you know, and if you keep your receipt you can still have records of your spending habits. If you really value your privacy, cash is definitely the way to go.

      • Don't Forget... (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Greyfox ( 87712 )
        To trade that card out with like-minded folks every so often. That'll further mangle the data in the database, leaving them with no idea what the hell the person regitered to the card is actually into.
        • I remember I was working at PGP when those cards first really hit. Obviously there were a lot of people there who thought about privacy. :) I remember someone there (heck, might even have been me) had the idea that, much like the "cypherpunks" login with the "cypherpunks" password (which, if you didn't know, is registered in many "registration only" sites, allowing you to login without actually bothering to register), we needed a cypherpunks phone number at Safeway. That way, we could say, "650-555-1212" and get the 5% discount. For those of you who don't know about Safeway, you can enter your phone number as a "key" to get the discount. You can also tell the clerk your phone number, if you're too stupid to type it on the pad, and I've always enjoyed being there at 2AM and seeing the tall, leggy blonde announce her phone number for all to hear.

          I then started thinking about the reports that computer was going spit out, because the vast majority of people who would do that are male programmer types (with a handful of women). "Bob! Look at this guy! Last week he purchased 372 liters of Mountain Dew, 27 frozen pizzas, 39 copies of Playboy and one box of Maxi Pads!"

          During this time I militantly refused to get such a card and give up my privacy for something as minor as a 5% discount. However, my wife went ahead and applied, but somehow managed to get our phone number wrong. I remember at one point I was buying some beer that was like $2 off per six pack, or something ridiculous. At that time, they were really pushing the cards, and, unless you were willing to be very rude, you got in this catch-22, where, if you told the clerks you didn't have a card, they'd hassle you about how stupid you were being for not saving $6 on the 3 six packs you were buying, or, if you said you left your card at home, they'd hassle you about giving them your phone number.

          Anyway, this clerk asked me if I had a card. "Yes, but it's not with me." She wanted to know the number. I gave her my number (obfuscated for this story as 650-555-3940). She punched it in, no such account. She said, "Let me try another one, maybe someone typod it." She typed a number, and the discount popped up. "Good call," said. "What was the number?" "650-555-3949," she said. "Are you Mr. Ngzrschy?" "Nope!" I said. "Thanks!"

          Ever since then I've used that number. The name is very difficult to pronounce, and the clerks usually try it one way, then another, then ask, "Did I get that name right?" I always say, "Absolutely!"
      • Re:Privacy (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mcrbids ( 148650 )
        Lying doesn't work. All that does is not allow them to trace anything to you personally.

        What makes you think they care about you?

        What they are looking for with these cards is associations like:

        1. People who buy Reddenbocker's popcorn prefer Brand X Ice Cream
        2. People who buy generic milk do/don't buy generic soda.
        3. What do people buy when they just run in for a gallon of milk?


        They *MIGHT* pay attention to the racial/ethnic information you filled out, but knowing its accuracy is going to be *alot* lower than the computerized records of what was bought, they'd give alot less credence.

        here is an article [sportsbybrooks.com] coving a study to determine relationships like these.

        This information is used for product placement, promotional offers, and in negotiating contracts with suppliers.

        The ethnic information, though less accurate, is still going to be accurate enough to sway decisions for advertising and promotion...

        • You are missing an importat point on this one - the type of informaiton you mention does not need a card following multiple purchases to do.

          In addition, the type of information you mention *does not really invade your privacy*.

          I did something else to further confuse the grocery people. In addition to lying, I gave out my extra cards to some people I know. They are not good friends, even, but do live in the same area I do so they use the same store I do.

          It would be very difficult for the store to find a decent pattern in our purchasing.

          I moved last fall. My current card is one that I found on the ground outside the store. I do not know who it belongs to.
        • Who would like to know more about your buying habits? I'll tell you one person who would love to know what you buy at the grocery store. Your insurance provider. Let see... buys a lot of beer, better raise his auto insurance rates. Buys a lot of red meat and junk food. Better raise his health insurance rates. Buys cold medicine instead of going to the doctor, maybe we can lower his rates. Oops. Buying condoms. That's risky. Better raise his rates instead.

          The grocery store itself probably couldn't care less about your buying habits. They aren't collecting the personal information for themselves. They are collecting it so they can sell it to other people who do care. And they are not giving you a discount. It's just offsetting other price increases. That's why I don't shop at the stores that do this. Some stores don't feel the need to overcharge people who care about their privacy, and those are the stores I shop at. In a capitalist society, your dollar is your vote. Vote wisely!
      • by inKubus ( 199753 )
        Of course now you're going to be getting coupons for AfroSheen from the printer.
      • "The best way to sabatoge that kind of invasive system is to simply feed it bad data."

        The best way to sabatoge that kind of invasive system is to simply take your business elsewhere.

        And it isn't your grocery store. It is the shareholder's grocery store.
    • Re:Privacy (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MrHat ( 102062 )
      The Grocery Store Card HOWTO
      April, 2002
      1. Visit the store at the busiest time of day. At least around here, that's 5:30pm or so. Right after work, but before everyone goes home to sit on the couch, drink whisky, and generally get 'tore up'.
      2. Pick up a loaf of bread or similar staple food.
      3. Find the line whose length appears to be increasing the fastest. Typically, these are the 'express lanes'. They're not 'express' (nor really even 'lanes'), but people seem to think they're quicker.
      4. When you get to the very front of the line, ensure there's a line of angry customers wrapped all the way into the next aisle.
      5. As the total pops up, tell the cashier: "The manager told me you have those cards at this register." Point at the bread. "I need one for this." Glare back through the large line.
      6. Watch as the cashier succumbs to peer pressure and gives you a card from the stack in the bottom of his drawer. Not like he wanted your personal information anyway.
      I've done this on several occasions. In the stores that have the automatic cashier machines, you can cut out the barcode and just carry it. Give cards away to your friends, tape them to telephone poles, whatever floats your boat.

      Then delight in the fact that you've won, at least for the time being.
      • I can make those steps much quicker..

        I just go to the supermarket (this has worked at every place that has those cards) and when you get in line, and they ask if you have a 'club card' or whatever, pretend to look for it, and then tell them that you don't have it on you. 3 out of the 4 supermarkets that i go to will ALWAYS use a card they have at the register. The other one (safeway) uses a phone number, so I just enter my mom's phone number and I get the discounts.

        This has happened to me time and time again, and it works everytime. The cashiers really don't want to have to do anything extra, so its easier for them to use their own cards or a dummy card to get you thru.
    • exchange for them tracking everything you ever buy from them

      If you are worried about them knowing about a specific item, you can just not offer the card when you buy that item.


    • Interesting point. Whenever I go to Safeway, I still use my safeway card. Why? Because I'm paying with my credit card - it wouldn't take too long for them to connect the dots. Basically, they already have a huge amount of info on my shopping habits - what is a little more?

      In fact, that is why I shop at Albertson's, because they don't have that damn club card.
      • In fact, that is why I shop at Albertson's, because they don't have that damn club card.


        It's coming. A year ago, Alberton's here in Dallas was all "Club card savings without the card!".

        Fast forward one year. Now its "Albertson's Preferred Savings Card: a better way to save!"

        The first time I went into the store and saw the card, I left immediately. I haven't purchased anything there since.

        Raising the prices to get my personal information amounts to extortion, and I won't stand for it. Not to mention that even with the preferred club savings, the price is still above what it was before on many items.
    • Re:Privacy (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Phroggy ( 441 ) <slashdot3@phroUU ... inus threevowels> on Monday April 29, 2002 @08:20PM (#3433162) Homepage
      Everyone *says* they value their privacy online and off. But almost everyone also gives away their privacy for the smallest benefit - like 5% discounts at your local grocery store, in exchange for them tracking everything you ever buy from them...

      When I give information to Safeway, I know exactly what information I'm giving them, I know they're tracking my purchases, and I know that if I don't want them to track a particular purchase, I can simply not use my card.

      What I don't know is whether Safeway might sell my personal information to a third party, without my awareness or consent. I'd like for this to be illegal unless I opt in.

      Aside from that though, I WANT Safeway to track my purchases. I want them to see what I buy. I know that the people collecting this data don't really care about me personally, I'm just a statistic - but I have no objection to being a statistic for them. What are they going to do, use my shopping habits to make my food more expensive? I don't think so.

      It's like the paranoia people have with targeted TV commercials. If targeted ads mean I see more commercials for IBM and Apple and Jack in the Box and Attack of the Clones, and I don't have to see commercials for tampons, I'm all for it. If tracking my purchases enables Safeway to sell me more of the food I want for less money, great.
      • Exactly! The above post is right on the money. In spite of what any paranoid people might *like* to think, they should realize that they are simply not that important. No, not even to your local grocery store. Just another datapoint. Datapoints are good, lots of datapoints are necessary but in no way individually interesting.
      • What are they going to do, use my shopping habits to make my food more expensive? I don't think so.

        Actually, that's exactly what they might do. Don't forget, the ultimate reason for all this data gathering is for the gatherers to keep more of the customers' money. They could do it by tracking your purchases and showing you ads for similar stuff. They could also do it by noticing that you buy the same product at different stores for different prices, so it's safe to raise the price on that product.

        Safeway is a business; it's not your friend.
    • Hmmm Krogers (midwest grocery) gave me 2 cards and 2 keychains. Let's see, one for my friend in Columbus, one for my sister in Dayton, two for me in Huntsville. That's odd on tuesday all he got was fruit/veggies/morning star hamburgers. On Wednesday he came back for 10 pepperoni and sausage frozen pizzas and 4-12 packs of cherry seven up. On Wednesday he came in for Milk, OJ, Bread, Lunch meat, hot peppers, and cheese. Hey, where does this guy live?
    • 5% discounts at your local grocery store

      Or find one of the grocery stores that will link a phone number to the card, like the Vons and Ralphs chains is CA. Make up a number, or use the store's phone number, the microsoft piracy tip line, whatever. Then post it online, like so: 858 336 2714, and explain that it should work at ralphs, vons, safeway, pavilions, and some affiliated stores.
    • I don't care how much info the grocery store tracks about me. If I save a buck a gallon on milk, amortized across three small children, that's a lot of money.

      Now apply that to other groceries.

      Sometimes it is a special value like the other night when out for maple syrup and paper napkins, I found milk discounted to 1.28/gal (limit 3). Thats's a 1.21 savings per gal. The $3.63 buys me two venti coffees and S*bucks on my way to work.

      Sometimes it is the difference between food being overpriced and reasonable. At that point, I get annoyed at the card system. Chciken, or milk should be affordable to everybody, not just card holders.

      So the store knows that I buy lots of milk, and often I buy Juicy-Juice, or Gogurt. Big deal. What does it cost me? Nothing. And I get those useless coupons at checkout-time, trying to entice me to buy Dole brand lettuce in a bag instead of FreshExpress brand lettuce in bag.

      Sometimes they even give me coupons for stuff I buy.

      Conclusions: Supermarket cards good. Fire bad.

  • 2:26 a.m. here in Madrid, Spain by my clock (which is always a bit fast). The fact that I'm even CONSIDERING reading Bill Gates testimony says to me that I need to go take a pill and go to bed.

    Slashdot: The nightime sleep remedy.

    -Russ
  • From the Softfield website:
    We accept PayPal and Money Order payments for all our products, parts and services. Please contact vr3@softfield.com with the items you wish to purchase.

    Does that seem very shady to anyone else? Maybe I'm just overly paranoid, but whenever a company only accepts money orders and/or paypal, it makes me a little wary. Plus there is not one mention of an "ST VR3" on their site, just a picture of a VR3 "H2O" model.

    Personally, I think I'll pass and see if anyone else is brave enough to order and actually gets their PDA. Something about the combination of Paypal and the low low price tag make me cautious.

    Meanwhile, if anyone wants an Agenda VR3 and wants to be assured that they will receive it, Agenda Germany is still taking orders! Check out their site here (http://www.agendacomputing.de) [agendacomputing.de]
    • ...uhhh... and which company *makes* the VR3s for Agenda? Softfield. That's why they are also selling all the component parts for the unit as seperate items (you can email them and order just about any little fiddling bit, and they have prices listed for the screen, the case, etc.)

      It looks like most wholesale/manufacturers who dabble in direct sales... if you order low run chipsets or oddball components, this is pretty standard. If you approach them with a $5 million order, they'll handle you differently... like Agenda. I'm not worried about the unit itself, but I don't expect much support. On the other hand, the niftiest thing is that the sync CD only supports Linux. Anybody else notice that?

      --
      Evan

  • argh... (Score:3, Funny)

    by Iamthefallen ( 523816 ) <Gmail name: Iamthefallen> on Monday April 29, 2002 @07:28PM (#3432955) Homepage Journal
    Also good for European insomniacs to start boring through.

    Aaargh, damn you slashdot, damn you!
    This will now be my 3rd pot of coffee today...local time: closing in on 2.30am

  • by curunir ( 98273 ) on Monday April 29, 2002 @07:34PM (#3432984) Homepage Journal
    It seems that if anyone should get how to deal with people's personal data, it should be someone who cares deeply about protecting the content industry.

    Simply put, my private data *is* property in the same way that N'Sync's newest crapfest is property. When I give my information to a company, it is analogous to the record label selling an N'Sync CD. I have given my information to them and they have limited rights as to what they can do with it. If they sell my data to another company, it's piracy in the same manner as if a consumer were to rip a cd and AIM it to his/her friend.

    I'm always amazed at the amount of corporate types who will rant about people pirating music/software/other content yet defend a company's right to use my private information however they choose. I'm also surprised by the number of people (much of the /. crowd, I'd imagine) who believe that there isn't anything wrong with trading copyrighted oggs/mp3s but will blast a company for doing something nasty with people's personal data.

    Pick one or the other. I'll take privacy.
    • The way things stand now, it's a very simple dichotomy, really. Owned by a big corporation -> private property forever. Owned by you -> public domain, until the big corporation aggregates it for resale, at which point it becomes theirs. From the corp's' view: what's mine is mine, what's yours is mine too.

      I agree that recognizing a person's ownership rights in the data stream that they generate when going about their everyday life should become the core of future privacy laws.

      Meanwhile, I'm putting a EULA on my bitstream.

    • The music industry is making a big mistake in trying to prevent people from downloading mp3s and such. If people are able to hear a couple songs from an album and they like it their probably more likely to buy it. Would you buy a book if all you know about it were the chapter titles? Or to carry the analogy to the extreme, would you buy a car without test driving it?
  • Ugly Icons (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rgmoore ( 133276 ) <glandauer@charter.net> on Monday April 29, 2002 @07:37PM (#3432994) Homepage

    Is it just me, or is this whole thing about KDE being ugly a tempest in a teapot? I thought that it was quite clear from Mr. Decrem's comments that his biggest objection to KDE was that the icons were ugly, not that the software itself was in any way bad. He specifically said that he thought that KDE could improve itself a lot just by making the icons prettier. I'm inclined to agree, and I'll even admit that one reason that I chose (and since have stuck with) GNOME over KDE was that I thought that KDE just wasn't aesthetically pleasing. Is there really a need to write an elaborate reply article just to answer the complaint that the icons could use some work?

    • Re:Ugly Icons (Score:2, Interesting)

      by hdparm ( 575302 )
      I don't think it's only icons. Overall, Gnome looks much smoother and easier on eye (just a personal feeling, of course). However, since the release of KDE3, combination that works best for me is Eggplant look (Gnome) + 'Slick' icons (KDE3).

      Great for us South Pacific insomniacs, although we're not going to check 42000 words of nicely indexed WG the 3rd's bullshit

    • Re:Ugly Icons (Score:3, Insightful)

      by pcardoso ( 132954 )
      KDE should default to *everything* cool.

      Good Icons, window decoration, styles, fonts, everything, at the expense of more memory and cpu usage. A bit like windows, really, but simple and elegant, like windows 2000, not garish and irritating like XP.

      Like me, those who know how to change their desktop to look prettier, also know how to make it faster and with less eye-candy. The opposite is not always true, no matter how simple it can be done.

      I really like my kde3 desktop with Ikons and the Keramik style. It's gorgeous just to look at. It's not very fast, or snappy like windows2k feels on the same computer, but it's very beautiful, and nevermind that this is just release 3.0. I expect the same speed improvements as those that followed the 2.0 release.

      I really want the desktop icons to cast shadows on the desktop, a bit like Ximian Gnome does. I'm a coder and I would make it myself, but where to start in all those kde/qt source files?

      • KDE should default to *everything* cool.

        Exactly! Everyone seems to accept that there are prettier looking icon sets out there than the current defaults. Just change to a better looking set and the problem is solved. You could do this very easily at zero performance cost, as long as the new icons were the same size and graphics type as the current butt ugly set.

        Good Icons, window decoration, styles, fonts, everything, at the expense of more memory and cpu usage. A bit like windows, really, but simple and elegant, like windows 2000, not garish and irritating like XP.

        I'm not sure if I'd describe Win2000 as simple and elegant, though I think that the icons are a distinct improvement from the old NT set. The menus fading in instead of appearing is simply obnoxious. It looks cool the first time it happens, but after than it just slows me down waiting for the menu to show up. Turning menu fading off is the second thing I do with Win2000 when I start working on a new box, after setting the file manager to sane settings (classic style, open folders in the same window, show hidden files, always show extensions, use the toolbar, show full path, detail view).

    • I like KDE, I'd probably prefer coding in it since it's C++ instead of C. But Gnome is just much more pleasing to the eye; Even more so with Ximian.

      Probably the coolest thing for KDE is the Liquid theme, but even with that it just feels like the whole thing lacks polish.

      I still install KDE whenever a major version comes out. At some point I'm sure it will pass some milestone like Mozilla 0.9.8 or Mandrake 7.2 where I'll start recommending it to new users.

      I shoulda just said, "me too" huh?
    • I think that part of the reason I turn in revulsion from KDE is that it stirs horrid memories of CDE. CDE was but ugly, and when I'm reminded of CDE, the latent CDE-trauma that scarred my brain makes the world look ugly. Thankfully, KDE is the only thing that reminds me of CDE.

      Similar symptoms can be observed every time I see mwm or a clone.

      -Paul Komarek
  • by DarkHelmet ( 120004 ) <mark@seve n t h c y c le.net> on Monday April 29, 2002 @07:43PM (#3433024) Homepage
    In the words of a friend of mine, you can't mention the words Linux Portable Device without some knob saying how awesome it would be to have a "Beowolf Cluster of These".

    When they make Linux clusters out of cellular phones, that'll worry me. You could destroy a building by programming 15000 portable devices to beep at the same time.

    Just remember that the power to do so is insignificant next to the power of the Force.

  • I always thought it was "De gustibus non disputandum est." At least, that's why my high school philosophy teacher told me back in the day. And that bitch was never wrong... maybe.
  • So do we expect to see the same problems that Dolly the Sheep has had. Or did Dick(PK) nail it with replicants burning out quick?

    Might be more useful as vict^H^H^H^HClones be able to tell us what's going on. "My arm stopped working thursday at lunchbreak..." etc.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 29, 2002 @08:13PM (#3433123)
    Let's BAN human cloning. It's immoral.
    But let's pump trailer park trash FULL OF FERTILITY DRUGS and watch them pop out septuplets and call it a MIRACLE.

    ALLELUJAH!!!!
  • Just what we need! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by deadhammer ( 576762 ) on Monday April 29, 2002 @08:18PM (#3433153)
    Science greatly ups my odds of reproducing

    That's just great! We're already running 6 billion, by 2021 there'll be 7. That's what we really need: More people.

    Why can't we just work with what we got?

  • ...and one from an Islamic country.

    I'm guessing the more passionate Islamic groups are going to love that.
  • I have come to the conclusion that I only care about section 2b an 2c. The rest of the remedy (creating a version of windows without IE, porting office to UNIX, etc) does not matter as far as I'm concerned.

    2b prohibits Microsoft from charging OEMs more if they make deals with Microsoft's competition such as AOL, Red Hat etc. I think it's pretty clear to everyone that Microsoft conintues to make illegal OEM deals all the time.

    2c allows OEMs to make changes to Windows. For example, they could install an office suit, install java, or they could remove Microsoft spyware.

    From reading Bill Gates testimony, it seems that 2c is the less problematic. He complains that it would allow OEMs to remove IE and install AOL. While that's true, I hardly see it as a problem. Gates also raises the issue that the OEMs will create incompatible versions of Windows but I do not think that is likely; it is in the OEMs best interests to serve their customers.

    Gates does raise some important questions about 2b. I suspect he's right that 10,000 licenses is too few. It does sound like the requirements are too vague. It is a very tricky problem but I see 2b as the only way to curb Microsoft's abuses.

    Gates states: "Faced with the inability to use our resources efficiently, we would have no practical alternative but to cease engaging in co-marketing with OEMs." This is a problem, but I honestly don't see how we can trust Microsoft to not abuse "marketting agreements." If Microsoft had not done so many illegal things in the past then I would be more sympathetic.

    • Gates states: "Faced with the inability to use our resources efficiently, we would have no practical alternative but to cease engaging in co-marketing with OEMs." This is a problem, but I honestly don't see how we can trust Microsoft to not abuse "marketting agreements." If Microsoft had not done so many illegal things in the past then I would be more sympathetic.

      Realistically, though, those marketing agreements are nothing but a kickback from Microsoft for playing ball. As long as Microsoft is a monopoly, the availability of Windows on a specific brand of PCs is pretty much a given, so it's not really a selling point. I just can't see anybody buying a particular brand because they advertize that they come with Windows. Even if that was an effective advertizing point, MS shouldn't need to subsidize it because the manufacturer should want to point it out by themselves. That makes it pretty clear that the only purpose of the co-marketing agreements is as a way for Microsoft to manipulate the effective prices of Windows while maintaining a nominally uniform licensing policy. There's no way they should be allowed.

  • ... Damn.. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Fixer ( 35500 )
    This is what happens when fucked up notions of morality get in the way of science. I would so DEARLY love to know how they have overcome the various aging issues with current (public) cloning techniques. But of course, in the current climate, were the researchers to step forward, their careers (and possibly their lives) would be over.

    Why on earth do people freak so badly over this concept? A clone (theoretically) is no different than an identical twin. It is a fetus until birth, and thence a person. Done. Are identical twins truly identical people? No. Could this offer tremendous hope for both stem cell research and infertility? Yes.

    I do not buy objections based on religion. I do not buy objections based on overpopulation.

    So what's the big freaking deal?

    • Re:... Damn.. (Score:4, Flamebait)

      by s390 ( 33540 ) on Monday April 29, 2002 @09:20PM (#3433468) Homepage
      Why on earth do people freak so badly over this concept? A clone (theoretically) is no different than an identical twin.

      Let me put this in perspective for you. Research with animal clones has shown them to be less hardy, prone to obsedity and other syndromes, and overall less healthy and shorter-lived. Now, ask yourself if you would really want to do this to... yourself. I personally think its unethical to do this even with animals. Even animals deserve dignity.

      How would _you_ like to be a clone? Imagine growing up knowing, or finding out later, that you're a replicant, and your death-clock is ticking faster than others'. Haven't you ever seen Blade Runner? I think outlaw researchers cloning humans should be prosecuted for crimes against humanity (their "products"), placed against a wall, and shot.

      • Let me put this in perspective for you. Research with animal clones has shown them to be less hardy, prone to obsedity and other syndromes, and overall less healthy and shorter-lived.

        This is true, but lawmakers seem intent on banning cloning permanently, even if the problems with it are solved. Many are even against therapeutic cloning, which doesn't involve creating a new person at all, just cell cultures.
        How would _you_ like to be a clone? Imagine growing up knowing, or finding out later, that you're a replicant.

        I've read about adopted children who find out later in life that they are twins. Mostly they seem intent on finding their twin. I haven't heard about it being traumatic.
      • The reasons you have cited are why my personal code of ethics causes me to oppose cloning with current technology. However, none of those issues is necessarily going to be an issue forever as the technology improves. I would like to convince people that there's nothing inherently immoral or evil about cloning, as long as it is done humanely. i.e., you don't clone a person and use them for spare parts or slave labor, and you don't do it if the effects you cited occur. Also, you don't create a batch of babies (embryos), select a few, and kill the rest. I support any effort to socially legitimize cloning once those obstacles are overcome. The question is, can we do research to move past those obstacles without utilizing the faulty cloning technology we have today and creating "prototypes" that will be subject to the conditions you cited?

        • Also, you don't create a batch of babies (embryos), select a few, and kill the rest.

          in vitro fertilization of genetically selected embryos already happens with current technology. What's so immoral about selecting healthy genes over diseased ones? In fact, I'd argue that it'd be immoral to knowingly allow a non-sentient-clump-of-diseased-cells to develop into a miserable human.

          IMO, Human life begins with a conscience -- which a few cells certainly don't have the capacity for -- and not at conception, and not at Trimester 3, and not even at birth (*gasp*). A baby doesn't recognize itself in the mirror until about 18 months, but I wouldn't advocate "selecting" newborns because of the much much much stronger empathy factor for anothers life at this point. I'm not a psychopath ya know. :)

          (btw, you should change your sig, the /. blackout is over.)
          --

      • Well, technicaly I agree with you. Cloning shouldn't be done now because of all the problems associated with it (namely telomere(sp?) shortening)

        However, there is no reason to think that those problems will exist in the future. If we could be assured resonable success rate (at or higher the success rate for natural birth) how would you feel about cloning then? (for instance, if we coudld do it with chimps)
        • When (not if) we work out the kinks, I'd feel the point of cloning is almost moot.

          You see, I'm one of those transhumanist "whackos" who thinks that our minds will evolve out of our frail bodies, and that the exponentional march of progress will allow us to do it by 2050. Cloning a mind is another topic... :)
          --

    • Re:... Damn.. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by gregfortune ( 313889 ) on Monday April 29, 2002 @09:24PM (#3433490)
      Let's say, for instance, that someone wanted to produce an army of blond haired blue eyed men to take over the world... Now, the biggest problem is getting the army built and to do that, children must be born. That could take a long time if you just used the population of one country (ie, the country struggling for dominance). But now let's suppose that you could offer to feed the women of an impoverished country if they agreed to carry a baby for nine months. Poof, population explosion.

      Or, let's say that the wealthy would like clones made of themselves and then when the clone reached a certain age, say 25, they would be killed and their bodies harvest for doner organs. By your own admission, these clones are real functioning people, but they could be in a situation where they are raised like cattle rather than like people. Don't believe me? Consider this, money talks, period.

      And the possible scenerios go on and on...

      Of course, it will probably happen and we can only hope that some kind of equal rights law gets passed someday, but even that probably won't prevent discrimination.
      • Let's say, for instance, that someone wanted to produce an army of blond haired blue eyed men to take over the world... Now, the biggest problem is getting the army built and to do that, children must be born. That could take a long time if you just used the population of one country (ie, the country struggling for dominance). But now let's suppose that you could offer to feed the women of an impoverished country if they agreed to carry a baby for nine months. Poof, population explosion.

        Um, the technology to do that has existed for centuries, it's called 'selective breeding' Using selective breeding on humans is called 'eugenics' and was fassionable in the 1930's, especialy in germany. What's your point.

        If you're willing to forgo blond hair and blue eyes, you can build an army with traits that actualy matter just by choosing a few good donor men and a resonable number of 'good' (geneticaly) women to be impregnated by them (say 1 to 20). You can get a huge number of kids from just one dude

        Or, let's say that the wealthy would like clones made of themselves and then when the clone reached a certain age, say 25, they would be killed and their bodies harvest for doner organs. By your own admission, these clones are real functioning people, but they could be in a situation where they are raised like cattle rather than like people. Don't believe me? Consider this, money talks, period.

        A person might use there computer to pirate a DVD, lets ban computers!

        A person might use their penis to rape someone, lets ban penii!

        Or, we could be sensible and ban whatever it is thats actualy wrong, rather then an enabler.
  • by Eponymous, Showered ( 73818 ) <jase@NOSpAm.dufair.org> on Monday April 29, 2002 @09:28PM (#3433504) Homepage

    Probably a must-read.
    That's a screaming endorsement. I'm critically ambivalent about whether to follow it. I'm bristling with excitement that it may be somewhat non-boring.
  • by CamelTrader ( 311519 ) on Monday April 29, 2002 @09:40PM (#3433559) Homepage
    Visit the Agenda [agendacomputing.com] page. Now click on the "BUY IT!" button. You will see that the VR3 retailing for $250.00. Another note at the bottoms warns you "available after June 1, 2001".

    So, is Softfield doing their own thing with this? Or has Agenda kicked the bucket and forgotten to update their web page?

    [QVC GUY]: How can the savings be THIS PHENOMENAL?? how can Softfield undercut Agenda by nearly ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY DOLLARS??

    Anyone know?
    • Probably because agendacomputing.com is a ghost site, not actually belonging to a functioning US company.

      For you Boy Scouts out there: Please don't go pestering the web hosting company. There's useful stuff around in various staff member home directories. I think it's all been mirrored now, but still.

      If you bring down the site, I will personally stand outside your house with a megaphone, and appropriate gesutures, shouting:

      "IMAGINE A BEOWULF CLUSTER OF
      THIS!"
    • The price of a piece of consumer electronics is ideally roughly 3x the time and materials that went into the assembly (not counting engineering time, overhead, etc.). You can shave some costs by using or modifying an existing design and Linux port, using offshore R&D talent, and using cheaper materials (wasn't there a flash shortage not too far back?). Looks to me like Softfield is doing all three.

      -jhp

  • As soon as the VR3 gets ethernet ( the page says june ) I think I'll get one.

    Good network testers run for well over $500+, and their not even that hot That's why I still carry a laptop around

    A VR3, software like, tcpdump, slightly modified nic driver ( maybe, for an attempt at diagnosising hardware faults ), ping, traceroute, portmap, arp. Would be better than most of the testers I'm seeing right now. All for $150+price of NIC.

    The only issue is text entry. I don't think it would be all that bad, if a menu is made available to the user. So the user can click on "broadcast discovery", to discovery host by an ethernet broadcast, arp, then dns ( maybe ), or the user can store a list of known host. For people with small networks, or particularly troublesome servers, that would work well.
  • 640K Memory (Score:3, Funny)

    by chuckw ( 15728 ) on Monday April 29, 2002 @10:33PM (#3433763) Homepage Journal
    At 42,000 words, it's not neccessarily light reading, but to their credit, it is nicely indexed.

    Well it's good to know that his speech will fit in 640K of memory...

  • Imagine, our president's wife, having given birth to clones! Twenty one years ago, they were conceived in secret, without any public oversight! Our own president, experimenting with clones. The shock, the horror, the shame of it. Conservatives must be stewing in their juices.
    -russ
  • Grayscale and 66MHz are fine, and the form factor is great. But it needs an SD slot and a standard serial port (or Bluetooth) to be really useful. Can that be so expensive to add? Of course, slightly higher resolution would be nice, too.

It has just been discovered that research causes cancer in rats.

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