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Comment Re:here's where the road goes... (Score 3, Insightful) 126

The loss of control over personal computing and web browsing especially is completely self inflicted in the name of ease-of-use. If Mozilla wanted, they could have build a Freedom browser, but instead they build a crappy Chrome clone and to get a little bit of freedom back you have to install all kinds of third party addons (e.g. even basic things like saving video). It's mind boggling how featureless modern browsers are by default.

As for the DRM, it's tricky. If there is no standard, you either get no video or you get a proprietary plugin. The lack of a standard doesn't make DRM go away and companies have to problem breaking standards to squeeze DRM in there. I don't like DRM being a standard, but I don't think it will make things worse than they already are. On the plus side, if there is a standard it might be easier to crack.

Comment Re:What's the point of 140 characters to begin wit (Score 2) 77

People already use Twitter for long messages all the time, but due to the character limit they have to do it by posting images of text or other ugly workarounds. If Twitter wants to give priority to short messages, that's fine, but forcing people into workarounds is just stupid. They had the same thing already with photos, people used TwitPic and other workarounds for a long while until Twitter finally started to allow images. It hasn't killed Twitter, quite the opposite, it made it more versatile and useful. I would expect much the same happening with long text support. Not supporting more than 140 characters isn't a feature, it's a leftover from it's SMS beginnings.

Comment Not dead yet (Score 3, Informative) 230

Flash isn't dead yet. While most mobile webpages no longer use it, on the desktop you still see it pretty frequently. As for its impending death, that has been a long while coming:

* using Flash to design a whole website became mostly unnecessary due to HTML/CSS becoming more powerful

* using Flash for vector animation became replaced by regular video and Youtube

* using Flash as video player became unnecessary due to HTML gaining a <video> tag

I am not quite sure what happened with Flash and gaming, Newgrounds.com is still around, but you rarely hear about it anymore. Doing games in HTML with <canvas> and WebGL is now possible as well, but I don't really see those very often. I assume Unity and mobile gaming took mostly over what was once done in Flash.

However what really killed Flash was Adobe no longer supporting it. When software is full of security and performance issues, it's no surprise that people will move away from it. Flash got popular in the first place because it did things that your browser wouldn't be able to do on it's own. But while browsers got more powerful, Flash just sat there and didn't really improve much at all.

Comment Re:Yes, it works fine. (Score 1) 91

Yes it does.

Well, yeah, without sound and with one 1fps or less. Meanwhile Steam can pump a game at 1080p@60 over the network without much problem, sound included.

Even ignoring the slowness when it comes to fast moving content. It's missing a lot of fundamental features, such as the ability to move apps between devices or screen sharing. You have to stop an app and restart it to move to another device. That you have to pipe the protocol through SSH if you want a bit of security also makes it more complicated to use than it's needs to be.

Comment Re:This is a pattern. It happens to everything. (Score 1) 91

Unix is build with a one-system:many-users mindset. That was a great idea 30 years ago. Today's reality however is the other way around many-systems:single-user, everybody has a tablet, a smartphone and a PC, sometimes multiple of each. Unix provides nothing to deal with that. You can try to export your home directory via NFS, but that falls apart the moment you have the same app running on two different computer and both want to access the same file. Some programs solve the problem at the application level, i.e. bookmark syncing in Chrome, but that doesn't scale to the rest of the system.

Once upon a time X11's network transparency was its claim to fame and it did provide a bit of a solution to the many-systems:single-user problem. But today it's close to useless. Ever tried to stream a video over X11's network connection? Doesn't work. The protocol just can't deal with today's workloads. Proprietary alternatives exist that can handle this much better.

In terms of security the whole idea of giving every app that a user runs access to everything that the user can access is also foolish. But at least there is a bit of hope in fixing that. Android solves that by running each app under a different user. Ubuntu tries to solve that by sandboxing. It's all still far away from being the default way you run apps on a desktop Linux, but at least people have recognized the problem.

Comment Re:You can't have it both ways. (Score 3, Interesting) 91

The big issue I have with HTML is that it's useless for publishing larger content, like books or even just multi-page articles. Thanks to hyper links it is of course possible to add some Next/Prev buttons to a webpage to represent such content, but those links are just hacks, not markup. eReader have developed their own formats (.ePub, .mobi, iBook, etc.) for accomplishing this task, but while they often are little more than a .zip with .html files, none of them are proper part of the Web and your regular web browser won't read them.

HTML had <link rel="next/prev"...> markup going back to HTML2.0, but it was never properly supported by any browser or developed into something that would be powerful enough to replace .ePub and Co. This to me is one of the big failures of the Web that nobody really talks about. The Web should be the place where you publish content, it should be the replacement of paper, but instead people are forced to use .ePub or .PDF for that task, as plain old HTML isn't doing the job.

The other elephant in the room are of course the hyper links. The Web still lacks any kind of content-addressability, it's all location based, thus when server go down or it's URL layout changes, all your hyperlinks break. Basic tasks like linking to a specific paragraph from another article are also not possible with HTML. Project Xanadu never got much traction, but it's really time for the Web to learn a thing or two from what they tried to accomplish back then.

Comment Re:Two different things (Score 1) 70

It's also worth noting that Zhang was hardly the only person to be working on this - Church's group published a very similar article in the same issue of Science in 2013, and about a half-dozen groups were reaching similar conclusions at the same time, but they weren't as aggressive about filing patents.

Comment Re:You will always be a foreigner (Score 1) 219

From Wikipedia:

"Since the 1980s, an estimated 200 million Chinese live outside their officially registered areas and under far less eligibility to education and government services, living therefore in a condition similar in many ways to that of illegal immigrants... There are around 130 million such home-staying children, living without their parents, as reported by Chinese researchers."

Of course if the Chinese government was less secretive and obsessed with control, we could probably find more accurate statistics. But then this is the country that tried to discourage the US embassy in Beijing from posting accurate air pollution metrics because they were so embarrassing.

Comment Re:You will always be a foreigner (Score 3, Interesting) 219

Veering slightly off-topic here, but in addition to what you said, the limitations on internal migration (for Chinese citizens) are absolutely insane by Western standards. Imagine that you couldn't attend school or obtain a driver's license or even legally reside in California despite being born there because your parents were "registered" as Illinois residents and moved without permission. As someone who rarely has to deal with any government agency more oppressive than the local DMV office, I can't imagine living in a country with that level of control over my life, even if they were handing out citizenship papers freely.

Comment Re:GPL (Score 1) 176

I don't get why you think taking a portion of a GPL-licensed work means that portion wouldn't itself be GPL-licensed. Of course it is, like the whole work is.

The stance of the FSF is that game assets are not software and thus having a GPLed engine bundled with non-free assets is ok. The assets and the engine doesn't form a complete work that as whole has to be GPL licensed. Going by that interpretation taking the assets from a GPL game and including them in a proprietary work would be ok, as it's just the reverse direction of what is already common practice (see Doom, Quake, Dosbox, ScummVM). The GPL would apply to the art, but not to the engine.

The license follows the graphics no matter how you get them.

That's not the issue, the graphics will obviously stay GPL, the issue is if it does force other parts of the program to fall under the GPL. In a statically linked C project the issue is clear because all the used library become part of the resulting executable. In a lot of other context the coupling between the GPL code and the proprietary code is not so tight. Using a GPLed grep in a proprietary shell script is for example considered ok, but using a GPLed grep() function loaded from a dynamic library would be considered a violation going by the common interpretation, even so it's essentially the thing. The proprietary code wouldn't need to contain any GPLed pieces, it would just call them. In the case of graphics the only thing that couples the code with the assets would be a filename.

Things get even more complicated when you are dealing indirect couplings by third parties, not by the distributor of the proprietary application. For example assume a proprietary application provides support for themes and then a user builds a theme from GPLed assets. Is that a violation or not? What about plugins or scripts?

This whole situation really isn't clear and even the official GPL FAQ is a little vague when it comes to how to deal with plugins and basically leaves the user with a "it depends".

Comment Re:GPL (Score 1) 176

If you use GPL code, you take on that license. It's really that simple.

The only area where the GPL is clear is statically linked C code, everything else is very open to interpretation. Take for example a GPLed game. Now somebody comes along, takes all the graphics and releases a proprietary game with them. Is that a violation or not? What if he doesn't actually include the graphics, but loads them from the web or straight out of your git repository or their fork of your git repository? What if it's not graphics, but interpreted code code? At what point do the assets require the rest of the code released under GPL? You can go with "never", "always" or "up to a judge's interpretation".

Even the FSF can't manage to get a conflict free interpretation out of it. On one side, if you use one of their GPLed libraries, your main app shall be released as GPL as well. But on the other side they want the right to clone proprietary APIs without adhering to the license. So what is it? Shall APIs have copyright or not? The FSF wants it both ways.

Comment Re:Not quite the same thing is already being done. (Score 2) 71

why is the test of worthiness for a medical procedure whether it can be "mass marketed"

Because someone has to pay for the research and development - which, please remember, involves large-scale clinical trials to get regulatory approval - and they're not going to front the money for a treatment that has no chance of recouping their investment, unless they have some other personal interest. You can wring your hands all you want about society's priorities, but new medical procedures aren't magically exempt from basic rules of supply and demand.

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