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Slashback: Google, China, Network Neutrality 143

Slashback tonight brings some corrections, clarifications, and updates to previous Slashdot stories, including Google's reasoning behind rejecting the DoJ motion, more fodder for the Chinese censorship fire, one of last weeks "first computers" brought to life, the New York Times backs network neutrality, hard drive death dance tracks, Serenity enters the black, and the USPTO issues a final rejection in RIM patent case -- Read on for details.

Google's reasoning behind rejecting the DoJ motion. xandroid writes "Google's blog has an explanation of their response to the DoJ motion." They have also provided a link to the entire 25 page response [PDF] sent to the DoJ.

Chinese censorship continues to be a hot topic. Mercury News is running an interesting article about the recent scolding top tech companies received from Washington with regards to assisting in censoring the internet in China. However, the Washington Post also has an interesting article regarding a senior editor at the China Youth Daily who posted a 'blistering letter on the newspaper's computer system attacking the Communist Party's propaganda czars and a plan by the editor in chief to dock reporters' pay if their stories upset party officials.' And finally, Wikipedia remains blocked in China despite the continued efforts of fans to correct the problem.

1960's Digicomp toy computer back in production. Larry Groebe writes "With all the talk last week about "first computers" on Slashdot and around the net, I was surprised to see only one mention of the Digicomp. A group of us keep the memories alive on Yahoo's 'Friends of Digicomp' group, and one enterprising member has managed to reconstruct the computer and is now selling them again for the first time in three decades. Its' a nostalgia trip for some of us; an eye opener for people who never experienced it; and still carries more than a bit of educational value. After all, even in these days of MAKE magazine, how many other true build-it-from-scratch computer kits are there?"

New York Times backs network neutrality. joshdick writes "In a recent editorial, The New York Times voices strong support for legislation requiring network neutrality. From the article: 'Some I.S.P.'s are phone and cable companies that make large campaign contributions, and are used to getting their way in Washington. But Americans feel strongly about an open and free Internet. Net neutrality is an issue where the public interest can and should trump the special interests.'"

Hard drive death dance tracks. daithedragon writes "A while back Gizmodo awarded the prizes in a competition to make a dance tracks out of the recorded noises of hard drives dying."

Serenity enters the black. stuart1310 writes "According to sliceofscifi.com the DVD sales of Joss Whedon's Serenity have recently climbed out of the red and started making profit for Universal. Beware, these numbers are estimates and even if accurate we've still a sight to go before seeing Serenity on TV or in the theaters again. Here is to hoping we do."

USPTO issue final rejection in RIM patent case. tsalaroth writes "ABC News is reporting that the USPTO has officially rejected at least one of the patents in the Blackberry infringement case. From the article: 'The U.S. patent office on Wednesday issued its first of several anticipated final rejections of patents held by NTP Inc. related to Research in Motion's BlackBerry device, two days before a judge will hear arguments on an injunction on the wireless e-mail service.'"

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Slashback: Google, China, Network Neutrality

Comments Filter:
  • Subject aside, when was the last time that a slashback didn't mention Firefly/Serenity?
  • 'The U.S. patent office on Wednesday issued its first of several anticipated final rejections of patents held by NTP Inc. related to Research in Motion's BlackBerry device, two days before a judge will hear arguments on an injunction on the wireless e-mail service.'

    So is there a good legal reason why a judge would enforce an injunction against RIM if one of the patents has been rejected, and it looks like the others will be too?
    • While you would expect final rejections of these patents/applications to end NTP's case against RIM, a final rejection is anything but final. NTP can (and based upon the stakes, probably will) appeal the decision to the board of patent appeals, and possibly to the federal courts. Only when NTP has exhausted all of their options will the entire NTP v. RIM saga end.
    • So is there a good legal reason why a judge would enforce an injunction against RIM if one of the patents has been rejected, and it looks like the others will be too?

      I can't imagine any lawyer worth his fees not making strained, vociferous arguments for an indefinite continuance (until the Patent Office releases its final reports on these patents) to rule on the motion for the injunction.

      If the patents are all invalidated, (and there are indications that very well could happen) what needs to happen is for

      • This will buy us time until we can finally get the Congress to enact reasonable patent reform. Or hell freezes over, whichever comes first.

        RIM also needs to sue the government for billions of dollars for its part in passing these fraudulent patents. The threat of enormous liability is the only thing that will instigate patent reform. Perhaps a class-action lawsuit could be brought against the government for trillions of dollars.
        • RIM also needs to sue the government for billions of dollars for its part in passing these fraudulent patents.

          Unfortunately, suing the Federal government is prohibited by the Constitution, although I suppose you could sue the government official in charge of the patent office personally...
    • IANAL...but as I understand it, the lawsuit in the courts is based on "Did RIM infringe on these patents?" not "are these patents valid". Based on that, as much as I hope he doesn't, I can understand it if the judge rules that RIM did infringe on the patents.

      When the lawsuit started, the patents were valid. So the judge has to decide if the technology used by RIM is similar enough to those patents to rule that RIM did infringe on them. Unless the patent office and/or the judge say that the invalidations
      • > So the judge has to decide if the technology used by RIM is similar
        > enough to those patents to rule that RIM did infringe on them.

        At this point "all" that is at issue is a preliminary injunction barring RIM from continuing the allegedly infringing activity until the trial is over and a final decision is issued. This requires that the judge determine if NTP is "likely to prevail" and if NTP is likely to suffer "irreparable harm" if the activity continues.

        I think that the present situation -- with t
  • by OYAHHH ( 322809 ) * on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @07:08PM (#14780993) Homepage
    I'm,

    Just wondering what Google is going to do when the Chinese authorities ask for the same search information for which the US has asked.

    Will they roll over and provide it, or will they actually resist?
    • by panaceaa ( 205396 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @07:23PM (#14781071) Homepage Journal
      Will they roll over and provide it, or will they actually resist?

      Google's responses so far in the congressional hearings about their China business indicate they obey all laws within the countries they operate, including China. So if Chinese officials can legally ask for search information for Chinese citizens, Google's current stance is that they will provide it.

      Google is in a bind right now because China will be one of the world's largest markets for information technology in 20-30 years. If they do not participate in the Chinese market now, local companies like Baidu will take the bulk of search engine marketshare. And it's much easier to gain marketshare in an early market than a late market (e.g. Coke versus Virgin Cola). However, obeying China's current laws is becoming a public relations nightmare for Google (and Microsoft, Yahoo) and it is tarnishing Google's "do no evil" image.

      China is too large of a market for Google to pass up, though, and therefore I believe it will continue to obey all Chinese laws including providing search information in order to have a presence in China's growing economy.
      • by joggle ( 594025 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @08:30PM (#14781406) Homepage Journal
        Google claims they aren't storing any personal info though on the censored google.cn site. So while they would have to turn over anonymous search info (assuming they are storing it), they couldn't give personal information since there isn't any to give.

        From google's blog [blogspot.com]:

        Privacy and Security. Google is committed to protecting consumer privacy and confidentiality. Prior to the launch of Google.cn, Google conducted intensive reviews of each of our services to assess the implications of offering it directly in China. We are always conscious of the fact that data may be subject to the jurisdiction of the country where it is physically stored. With that in mind, we concluded that, at least initially, only a handful of search engine services would be hosted in China.

        We will not store data somewhere unless we are confident that we can meet our expectations for the privacy and security of users' sensitive information. As a practical matter, meeting this user interest means that we have no plans to host Gmail, Blogger, and a range of other such services in China.

      • by StikyPad ( 445176 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @09:27PM (#14781643) Homepage
        Personally, I think Google/Yahoo/MSN are being scapegoated in this China deal. Disobeying Chinese law is simply not an option, and abstaining from the Chinese market benefits no one. Getting their collective feet in the door is the first step toward effecting change anyway. If they're successful, it gives them bargaining power. Maybe not much, but certainly more than they have as outsiders.

        Obeying the laws of the host country is simply the price of doing business. We expect visitors to the US to obey our laws when they're in our country, despite the fact that some of our laws (DMCA, PATRIOT Act, substance prohibitions) impose on the rights foreign travellers might enjoy in their home countries. There's no reason to expect otherwise when the situation is reversed. We can't have it both ways.
    • You're missing the point. It is legal in China for the Chinese government to demand such records. The legal basis for the US government to do so is dodgy, if not downright illegal. And no, I'm not a Google fangirl - if you read some of my posts you'll see that I don't like them for obeying the government that masacred so many non-violent protesters. I'm actually boycotting them myself.
    • No user ever went to jail because they were served filtered search results. They just get a little annoyed and maybe look elsewhere. But if Google shares search records, users are going to jail.
  • by Aidski ( 875851 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @07:09PM (#14781000)
    "Tell them I ain't comin back"

    So I'm a Firefly nerd, sue me.

    • I'd never seen Firefly (it was never on TV in Oz), but went to see Serenity with a group of friends who liked it. I started watching Firefly later (ahh, the wonders of Bittorrent!), and one thing stood out immetiately..

      The acting was sooo bad compared to the movie (particularly in the early episodes)!! It was obvious that as the series progressed, the acting improved heaps, and that was really interesting to watch. I also thought that the standard of the plot/storytelling in the movie was far better - again
      • What you're talking about is not better acting, but more familiarity with the characters as the series progressed.

        Your first exposure was to a well oiled movie in which the actors had had several years to become familiar with the subject matter and characters. They where comfortable, as was Joss. Then, you go back and look at the first episodes... it wasn't better acting per se, but more character to draw from.
        • I agree with you, but I still think that it was partly an acting improvement.

          I remember cringing at the delivery of a few lines of the priest (can't remember his name!) in particular, in early episodes. It sounded like he was reading them from a screen!

          But yeah, character familiarity definitely helped! ;-)
  • by GeneralEmergency ( 240687 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @07:10PM (#14781003) Journal
    Seeing that picture brought back alot of memories and the realization that the one decent thing my "Absentee Dad" ever did for me was to buy that thing and send it to me.

    I had mine for years but finally tossed it out because of missing parts. Now I can buy a new one.

    Sniff.

     
  • Google's reasoning (Score:1, Interesting)

    by MilenCent ( 219397 )
    I found Google's response somewhat acceptable. It is true that they do notify the user that pages have been removed, which for some Chinese search users may be their first indication that the Chinese government mandates censorship (although I don't know the exact phrasing of the notification). I'm not *completely* satisfied with their move, but it is true that Google has a Chinese language version of their primary search site that they don't censor.

    And need I remind you guys, Google does censor U.S. searc [webenglish.com.tw]
  • by cfulmer ( 3166 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @07:13PM (#14781021) Homepage Journal
    So, the problem with Network neutrality is that it opens up the DSL and Cable providers up to competition for their other service, and that'a a big disincentive for them to roll it out. I wrote an article [duke.edu] about this at the Duke Law & Technology Review [duke.edu].
    • Which explains why the internet is in hardly any households.

      Corporations see the end of the rampent money making through selling to ISPs, the market is nearly full. SO they go afters corporations to continue making more money every year. More money meaning, more then the previous year, not just profit.

      People will not be happy when they can't connect to various internet sites and get a responsive results.
      • The problem is not really that your ISP will block, say, google's current search service. They are going to block video content from say movie studios -- the problem for them is that when their customers start doing pay-per-view over the Internet, they won't be doing it through the Cable company's pay-per-view service and the Cable Company doesn't get their cut. So, how much do you think the Cable company is going to want to roll out high-bandwidth services if the end result is that their revenue drops.
        • The argument against net neutrality forgets the resolution of "open access" years ago. The (physical pipe) providers can either have net neutrality or open access to swallow. It doesn't matter which one they take, the end result for the consumer is the same. I don't expect both open access and net neutrality - there is no incentive for multiple ISPs if there is net neutrality.

          The consumer is paying for a service. Theoretically, this service is for access to the internet "cloud," not isolated islands of
    • when was the last time you heard of a ISP going out of business?

      Idiots like you need to stay in school and learn something. In the beginning there were bbs and closed networks. prodigy compuserve, Aol, Each service provided everything on their own content in a tiered system. Most allowed limited connections with the outside As the Internet began to take off, and people realized what a neutral and open platform could do they flocked to it. prodigy is gone, compuserve is a shadow of it's former self. MS
      • What's up with the personal attack? That's not cool. Did you even read the article?

        The problem is not with current Internet services -- I don't think that my ISP ought to charge websites extra fee for, say, downloading music from iTunes or posting to Slashdot. After all, that's what I'm paying for now.

        The bigger problem is that if ISPs roll out very-high-bandwidth networks, the are going to be opening up an entire new avenue of competition for their other services. Madison River, a telephone company tha
      • "when was the last time you heard of a ISP going out of business?"

        Do you know anything about the Telcom bust in 2001-2002
        • The telecom bust happened a year earlier. When the NASDAQ took its dive in 4/2000 it took a lot of telecoms with it.

          Pour out a little liquor for Pacific Gateway Exchange. [sigh] Began to die in July of 2000. By January 2001 it was delisted and bankrupt. By April 2001 it was on the auction block.
    • by Jherek Carnelian ( 831679 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @07:53PM (#14781209)
      the problem with Network neutrality is that it opens up the DSL and Cable providers up to competition for their other service, and that'a a big disincentive for them to roll it out.

      So, instead of giving up more control of public utilities, give them less control and put it back in the hands of the public.

      Require that these companies get out of the "content" business and stick to owning and operating the 'pipes.' After all, it is only the pipes that are a public resource (or really the right-of-way to lay the 'pipes' across private property) - content is not a public resource so companies that get a government granted monopoly should not be allowed to leverage that monopoly to unfairly compete in other markets. Once upon a time, that kind of abuse would have been considered a clear violation of the sherman anti-trust act, now it seems to be taken for granted, the public good be damned.
      • "Require that these companies get out of the "content" business and stick to owning and operating the 'pipes.' "

        So you don't want network neutrality? Operating the pipes gets you zero revenue. You only get revenue for getting someone to subscribe to some service at the end of some pipe with the network neutrality model.
        • Operating the pipes gets you zero revenue.

          So what is my $50/month cable-modem bill? Chopped liver?
        • You only get revenue for getting someone to subscribe to some service at the end of some pipe with the network neutrality model.

          In the case of a network-neutral last-mile ISP, this "service" would be line maintenance and Internet Protocol routing. We don't want the IPv4 routing service to be tied to the purchase of other services offered by the same company.

    • by Guy Harris ( 3803 ) <guy@alum.mit.edu> on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @08:11PM (#14781298)
      So, the problem with Network neutrality is that it opens up the DSL and Cable providers up to competition for their other service, and that'a a big disincentive for them to roll it out.

      So how is this handled in other countries? Do any other countries require network neutrality on the part of circuit providers (i.e., providers of raw pipes to the customer) or ISPs (who could be the same entity as the raw pipe provider, or could be somebody buying raw pipe capacity)? If so, how has that affected the rollout of broadband services?

      Googling for

      crtc "network neutrality"

      found this Toronto Star piece by Michael Geist [thestar.com], which argues in favor of Canada adopting a policy requiring network neutrality (and says that one telco, Telus, brieftly blocked access by its customers to a Web site set up by a union with which it was having a dispute), so I presume there was, at least at that time, no regulatory requirement for network neutrality in Canada.

      Googling for

      europe "network neutrality"

      found other pieces by Michael Geist, which indicate that some European carriers are blocking VoIP traffic, so I assume there's no regulatory requirement for network neutrality in the countries in which they're doing that.

      On the other hand, Googling for

      france "network neutrality"

      found a piece by Lawrence Lessig [lessig.org] arguing that France and Japan offer better high-speed broadband than is available in the US (which might even be true in areas of comparable housing density) and required "strict unbundling", which Lessig describes as even more stringent than network neutrality.

      However, it also found this blog item on the Progress and Freedom Foundation site [pff.org], citing arguments before congress that a key point, at least in the case of France, was that "France operated in a monopoly environment".

      So a quick Google found no obvious single conclusion about this issue. I'd be curious to see what people who aren't strong advocates of either position have to say about the raw(er) data.

    • From your article:

      Removing the neutrality requirement allows the ISP to avoid the risk that a competitor will use the ISP's increased bandwidth to compete with it.

      Ideally this would work. The problem is that there's often not much competition, many people have only one choice of ISP.

      I've been building IP netwroks for nearly ten years and IMHO ISPs (perhaps like the drug companies) greatly inflate the amount of their investments in infrastructure. The Internet is cheap, it's just a bunch of wires an
      • "The Internet is cheap, it's just a bunch of wires and switches. I'd much rather see the ISPs concentrate on building fat pipes and get out of the content business."

        Right, so they should invest in fat pipe that generate no revenue under the network neutrality model. Why would they? They'll provide the last mile solution to get their subscribers and let someone else worry about the backbone, since it's free.

    • So, the problem with Network neutrality is that it opens up the DSL and Cable providers up to competition for their other service, and that'a a big disincentive for them to roll it out. I wrote an article about this at the Duke Law & Technology Review.


      It seems to me that since the information superhighway is becoming increasingly as important to maintaining a vibrant healthy economy as concrete ones the government should start considering excercising eminent domain to ensure neutrality.
    • So, the problem with Network neutrality is that it opens up the DSL and Cable providers up to competition for their other service, and that'a a big disincentive for them to roll it out.

      You're an idiot. The telephone companies have been "common carriers" for over 100 years now. What do you think would happen if the telephone companies decided that they were going to start charging $0.25 a call if any business transaction were discussed on their lines? People would rightfully be up in arms. Yet that is t
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @07:13PM (#14781024)
    The fascinating news for me is Google, a private company standing up to the fascist tyranny of the US government.
    Aside from the fact that it should be the job of the US poulation to do this, and the profound irony of a corporation
    standing up for rights the ordinary individual is too apathetic and mentally lazy to deal with there is the
    hilarious spectre of Washington chastising Google and Yahoo over their censorship. Could the irony be any richer? As if Washington had any moral weight left in this world whatsoever. High soap opera if you ask me. The USA just looks a little sadder and more lost with each passing day.
    • "The fascinating news for me is Google, a private company standing up to the fascist tyranny of the US government."

      No, the US govt. wants anonymous data, but Google doesn't want to give up any data that might reveal how they do search algorithms. Google isn't looking out for your privacy. It's just a coincidence.
  • "Hard drive death dance tracks. daithedragon writes 'A while back Gizmodo awarded the prizes in a competition to make a dance tracks out of the recorded noises of hard drives dying.'"
    seriously, who comes up with that, and moreover how do you kill a hard drive without having the noise of it getting hit or something?
    • Forget mixing the sounds of Hard Drives dying; I have seen a few which could best 140bpm themselves. Move on over Tiesto.
    • The only sound I hear is the groan coming out of my mount with each new sector that is unreadable. I'm convinced it is dying. It's a Seagate ST3160023A-RK 160GB drive with fluid dynamic bearings and very quiet, but it is up to 51 reallocated sectors and it seems to be dropping more than one a week. I guess I need to return it (again) for a warranty.

      But I've learned how to track down in Linux what is on the sector that is bad. I'm getting pretty good at that.

  • The west isn't usually so unabashedly blatant about the censorship that goes on here. Instead, prefering to hide behind twisted versions of ideals like free markets and property rights.

    But every once in a while you get something that is just as messed up as in China:

    http://www.nydailynews.com/02-21-2006/front/story/ 393403p-333442c.html [nydailynews.com]
    • Agreed. It's a pity.

      I think Irving is a very twisted man, and is unable to look at WW2, and the holocaust in an objective way. I think the things he says are bollocks. But I think he has the right to say them (and we have the right to call him a bloody idiot). It's a shame he's going to jail.

      Having said that, it's a difficult issue. If the neo-nazis come to power, the first thing they'll do is take away free speach (eg http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Rose [wikipedia.org])

      Also, I think free speech _must_ be tempered by r
      • If the neo-nazis come to power, the first thing they'll do is take away free speach

        There is a logical flaw in the implied argument that, free speech empowers the neo-nazis (replace with generic bad-guy-meme). Making certain communications illegal, just pushes them underground. Above ground, it can be disputed, under ground it exists in a vacuum and people exposed to it there will hear no disputing arguments and are thus more likely to be swayed. One might consider the growing numbers of neo-nazis in aust
        • Definitely. I agree with you, and I think that free speech is so intrinsic to 'Western' society that any attempt to restict it 'for the greater good' will only bring harm.

          I guess what I was trying to say was that perhaps our education system should better emphasise the importance of exercising free speech with sensitivity and tolerance.

          Saying [insert bigoted, hate-filled, unsubstantiated statement here], and then 'hiding' behind freedom of speech is just pathetic, in my opinion. I think we need a way to hel
      • "Also, I think free speech _must_ be tempered by respect. I think this is partly why The Cartoons have caused so many problems. We need the right to be able to say anything. But, we need to exercise that right responsibly, and not use it to facilitate hate-speech, and racism."

        You had me right up until "hate-speech and racism."

        At the risk of thumping a bible, I'm a firm believer in "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." For example, when Irving was speaking here in Southern California, protest
    • Heck, don't go all the way to Austria. Just check out The Smith Act [bc.edu].

      By the way, as a laugh, I'm always reminded of a quote by George Will: "The Liberal Conundrum: What to do about graffiti on the free speech monument?" [greenmuseum.org]
    • The west isn't usually so unabashedly blatant about the censorship that goes on here. Instead, prefering to hide behind twisted versions of ideals like free markets and property rights.

      And yet you link to a story about censorship that has nothing to do with free markets or property rights? The story you linked has to do with the censorship of "hate speech" that many European countries do; this censorship is really only "alive and well" in Europe -- hate speech is protected under the 1st Amendment here in
  • by fremen ( 33537 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @08:00PM (#14781249)
    A common mistake in financial planning is to just add and subtract money together over time to decide whether or not something is profitable. Profit = Revenue - Costs, so this makes sense to mose people. Let's assume that Universal gets 55% of rental dollars (like ticket sales) and that they get $10 per DVD (wild guess).

    ($38 million in ticket sales*(55%) + $9 million in rentals*(55%) + ($10 per DVD * 2 million DVDs)) - $49 million production costs = $-3.15 million.

    Surely the movie is close to being profitable, right? Well, not exactly. You also have to consider Universal's cost of capital, which is essentially the opportunity cost of making a risky investment. In layman's terms, Universal could have put their money elsewhere instead. Roughly (and with lots of guessing), let's say that the cost of capital was 15% (market average is 10.4% and movies are far riskier investments than the market).

    Assuming the capital investments followed a pattern where the movie's costs came in year 0, the advertising in year 1, the ticket sales in year 2, and the DVD rentals in year 3, then the Net Present Value of this investment would now be:

    (-39) + (-10)/(1.15) + ((25 + 13) * 0.55)/(1.15)^2 + (9 * 0.55)/(1.15)^3 + (10 * 2 million)/(1.15)^3 = -15.4 million

    Based on some educated guess work, I think it's safe to say that Universal is still way in the hole on this one.
    • Nice theory, but let's say instead of making Firefly, they decided to make the next Paully Shore movie, or a Waterworld that will permanently reside in the red. You speculate on the past as if you know the future. What happened with Austin Powers(which didn't do so hot in the theatres either) could very well happen to Firefly.
      • What happened with Austin Powers(which didn't do so hot in the theatres either) could very well happen to Firefly.

        As someone who enjoyed Firefly and Serenity I hate to say this, but the analogy doesn't really fit.

        Austin Powers [wikipedia.org] cost $16.5 million to make and grossed $53 million (box office) in North America. Serenity [wikipedia.org] cost $39 million and grossed $38.8 million (box office) worldwide.

        While Austin Powers wasn't anything spectacular, it was cheap and solid in the box office, creating a base that could be
    • You're not familiar with "Hollywood accounting," are you? You know, the sort of accounting where the studio will rent itself a $10 lamp for $300/day, to ensire the movie never makes a profit (because somebody gets a cut of the profit).

      If they're admitting it made a profit, it was probably in the black from the box office alone.
    • Trust the economist to turn this into a downer for everyone.

      Just go home and play with your little calculator buddy, nobody wants to hear you.

      ha, ha, ha, just kidding, you are great, really!
  • China is at a crossroads. Their government knows that they have the potential to become one of the most powerful economies of all time, perhaps even beating out the US in the process. But they learned from the USSR about what happens with the rapid release of repression and don't intend to give up power that fast. Even the recent promises on property were a "great leap forward" for a Communist government. So I take a wait-and-see attitude on Chinese censorship because while the government wants to keep
  • OK, I should probably turn in my geek card, but just this last weekend I rented the first season of Firefly and watched the show for the first time. I have to admit my interest was not picqued over a "space western" but seriously, the show is very, very well done. I love all of the characters, the ship, the setting, and the universe - it's just so well done and a loss for television now that it's off the air. I really only have myself to blame and had I realized sooner that Josh Whedon was involved I would
    • Don't get too hooked. Joss Whedon announced that Firefly was gone for good some time ago.
      • No he didn't. He said that making Serenity brought "closure", but that's not the same as being finished for good. He followed up with a clarification once it was clear that lots of people were misinterpreting what he'd said. Check previous slashbacks for the link.

        I'm not saying there's a huge amount of hope for the show to be reborn, but Joss has never ruled it out.

        Keep buying those DVDs! :)
    • I had a similar experience. I thought it would suck because I think Buffy is terrible. I figured that if Whedon created crap like Buffy, then Firefly couldn't be all that his rabid fanbase made it out to be.

      But I borrowed the box set from a friend, and it was great! Just utterly fantastic. (Ok, the second disc was a little weak.) Haven't seen Serenity, but I'll get around to it.

      By the way, I suggest avoiding the Dark Horse comic based on the franchise. It's supposed to bridge the gap between the l

  • by Dot_Killer ( 473321 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @09:56PM (#14781801)
    Are we now expecting some US government determined business ethics for US companies? When did that start?

    I see the reason why people are talking about Google, Yahoo, M$ and Cisco dealings in China. BUT it is sort of limited in scope. Why are the Republicans and Congress focusing on technology companies' business practices only. It is just another easy political game. US companies do billions of dollars of business in China and the congress is concerned that US tech companies are following the authorities of China on what they are allowed to do in their country. Could a foreign company operative in the US that did not follow restrictions that the US has laid out? So why do we expect US companies to go to China and operate in a way in which the government would not allow them, China could just pull the plug. The US likes the idea of the internet being another venue to expand the US culture around the world, the same way movies and tv already do; but not necessarily spreading freedom.

    The US government only agitates in this when a government is in power that they do not agree with. I doubt they are asking for more real freedom in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia or Egypt. I wont get into all that right now.

    I actually wish a deeper debate on US company ethics and practices around the world. Why are we jumping on Google. Have you seen what Walmart is doing in China; check out the Walmart movie. We should be discussing the "race to the bottom" mentallity occuring now by US companies. We should be asking what US oil companies are doing in Africa, clothing companies in East Asia, companies in Mexico and Central America. We should be talking about humane work conditions, fair wages, end to police state enforced sweatshops.

    The tech companies pose a problem because they are actually undermining US policy toward China by allowing China to weed out Western influences. But the Republicans or Congress as a whole don't seem to care about the race to the bottom happening all over the world.
  • by jonwil ( 467024 )
    The problem for the chinese government is that Wikipedia is:
    A.a site that prides itself on being neutral whenever possible and presenting the facts only without presenting any opinion.
    and B.Editable by anyone from anywhere.

    Having the facts presented with no bias is the one thing that the chinese government DOESNT want because it might actually make enough chinese hate their government that we end up with a "peoples revolution" (ala the revolution in Yugoslavia that ousted Milosovitch)

    And, given point B, it
  • After all, even in these days of MAKE magazine, how many other true build-it-from-scratch computer kits are there?

    Umm, was it called the Altivec, or Altair? I can't remember. :(
    • ...specifically, the MITS Altair 8800 [ucdavis.edu]. There's a wonderful section in Steven Levy's Hackers about it and how baffled the company was at the intense demand for such a thing; from the link above, "...results of a program were indicated by the pattern of flashing lights on the front panel." That wasn't a status display, it was the output.
      • Thank you. I realized this after going to my bookshelf and pulling out 'Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution" to get a recap. That was one of the best books ever written IMHO.
  • I rewatched Serenity today right after watching the series through a couple of times, and the first thing I thought was "what the hell did they do to the ship?!"

    I never noticed it watching the movie the first time, but one of the most beautiful things about the series was that even though it was a spaceship, everything was all mechanical and just a touch run-down and clunky. In the movie they made it all shiny - and not in a good way. The doors to the crew quarters actually went mechanical and got fluoresce
  • "New York Times backs network neutrality."

    A liberal newspaper backs a socialist system. In other news, the Pope is Catholic.
    • Network neutrality is socialist?

      And does the liberality of the paper mean that
      they will be an automatic dupe of this "socialist"
      system, and endorse it without thought? Or could
      it possibly be that they made up their own minds
      on a reasonable ( to them ) principal ( that you
      dont happen to agree with )?

You can tune a piano, but you can't tuna fish. You can tune a filesystem, but you can't tuna fish. -- from the tunefs(8) man page

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