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Comment ASCAP's whole bit is pretty funny (Score 1) 335

"We're here to protect your rights. If it weren't for us, you'd be going broke. In fact, the sky could come falling right down on top of you! ... so, uh... got a dollar?"

Walks like a scam, talks like a scam, I think I'll call this a scam. That ASCAP is working for the good of society is a pretty tough sell when it has declared war on organizations that work to make things free to the public, and ASCAP itself is looking for a handout.

Comment Sorry for the troll post, but... (Score 1) 273

When I look around and count the number of my peers going to law school, observe the burgeoning size of the US government, talk to 'corporate communications executives', etc., I wonder if something sociological isn't going on. It's like there's just not enough productive work out there (or it's too difficult to figure out what productive work _is_) for everybody to be doing something useful, and bullshit like this is the result. I guess Ayn Rand ought to be rotating in her grave, or something.

I mean, who comes up with this crap? Why wasn't this idea ridiculed into oblivion? Somebody is actually paying good money for this?! There's a million things wrong with this idea, but at the least I guess you could say: "There are many, many ineffectual ways to deter copyright infringement. Altering your encoding format is probably near the top of that list." Bad ideas get tossed around all the time, but this one is a little disturbing.

Maybe I'm just missing something, but it seems that this is a technological idea that demonstrates a fundamental lack of understanding of technology. The fact that there have been so many of its ilk proposed lately is cause for concern:
I understand that there are CEOs and 'media executives' whom are out to make their shareholders (and themselves) money, and will try just about anything that stands a chance of forwarding that goal. I presume that this is ultimately where this kind of bad idea comes from. That's capitalism, and I'm O.K. with that. The thing is, given the salaries that such individuals are paid, they ought to be highly informed experts in their business... or at least not _more_ ignorant than the average individual.

It's one thing to be overpaid-- That's fine. I can live with that. It's another thing to be overpaid, under-qualified, non-productive, and prolific. That's a real problem.

Comment Re:Let's not forget (Score 1) 280

The internet is its own society which is free from cultural and geological borders.

...The failure here is that almost no government believes that the Internet is a sovereign society.

[The internet] WAS free. Past tense. And prepare for ACTA, this is only getting worse.

I like this analogy. Lets say the internet is some kind of territory fighting for its sovereignty. Speaking to the large number of software developers that hang around here: you and I would constitute frontline combatants in the Internet's guerilla army. We're a bunch of highly-trained soldiers fighting on our home territory against a horde of misguided interlopers that have little idea what they're getting themselves into.

How many congresspeople and spoiled media moguls does it take to lob a piece of legislature like the DCMA, or dismantle an operation such as Napster? Then one of our 'specialists' like Bram Cohen, or the guys at the Pirate Bay, blow everything they've done to shit in short order. Every time some asshole has a greedy, inefficient, or nearsighted idea that the internet, as a people, do not want, an army of the most highly educated and intelligent people on the planet get straight to work at dismantling it. In fact, even beyond computer specialists, the number of intellectuals that are in favor of internet regulation is exceedingly small, so I'd say that the internet has the pick of the best that society has to offer fighting for it.

It's not unlikely that this is a war of attrition. I wouldn't worry much, though. The Internet's army is filled with problem solvers; We're fighting against a bunch of 'consensus-builders'. I don't mean to belittle consensus-building (much), but when the virtual bullets start flying, I know which camp I'd like to be a part of. ...I guess what I'm saying is that it's lambs and lions, and you and I are the lions. I wouldn't be too worried. Now get to work.

Comment Speaking of Google's thinking... (Score 1) 515

Google faces some pretty stiff competition in the Chinese market from domestic competitors like alibaba and baidu. This move allows Google to get a leg up on the competition by nosing into a possibly large and untapped market: Chinese people that would prefer to have their internet search uncensored. Of course this assumes that Google can remain operating in China with or without the government's consent.

Either Google wins in China in spite of the government, or they're trying to penetrate a market in which the government works against them, and it's not worth their while. No matter how it turns out, Google gets plenty of press, and is acting as though it has some semblance of a moral backbone, which is more than we can say for Google's competitors (read: M$). If I were a shareholder, I'd be proud.

Comment Re:One person's myth is another person's fact. (Score 1) 580

Proven? Where? Even if it were true that commenting is useful in some situations, are you certain it universally increases productivity? Given your degree of certainty, why did you omit the study that supports your point?

It is my experience that code commenting encourages people to not read code. Commenting an API is a great thing, since it aids encapsulation. Commenting class-internal methods might be a bad thing, since someone who is trying to understand how a class works really ought to be reading and understanding all of the code. Also, lets not forget that code is a _human_ language; the code itself says what it is doing. Finally, programming has changed a lot over the 'decades' you speak of. Are you sure that the habits that were formed when people were programming pascal in a waterfall development process are equally applicable to C# in an Agile environment with an IDE that can instantly jump to any method declaration?

I'd humbly like to encourage you to be a little more analytical an open minded about your coding practice beliefs. It's also my experience that there typically is an inverse relationship between how good a programmer one believes oneself to be, and how good of a programmer one actually is.

Image

PhD Candidate Talks About the Physics of Space Battles 361

darthvader100 writes "Gizmodo has run an article with some predictions on what future space battles will be like. The author brings up several theories on propulsion (and orbits), weapons (explosives, kinetic and laser), and design. Sounds like the ideal shape for spaceships will be spherical, like the one in the Hitchhiker's Guide movie."

Comment Here's an idea (Score 1) 660

Let's invent a machine that is based on mathematical logic, that can only interpret simple instructions, but executes those instructions precisely and with no ambiguity. Then, since human language is fuzzy and full of ambiguity (like human minds), lets invent languages that are extremely specific, so that it will be easy for us to tell our new machines what to do. Finally lets go through the laborious task of translating our fuzzy ambiguous thoughts into these rigid, well qualified languages...

...now we've accomplished all that, lets take all our hard work and undo it. Lets back-work a bunch of fuzzy ambiguous language over the well-specified one, creating a mish-mosh of two languages: logical human and illogical human. That sounds like a good idea, because what we really need is to say everything, and then say it again badly.

Commenting is highly overrated, and a lot of people have been indoctrinated by teachers that have little work experience. The adherence to code commenting stems partially from it being a first-pass attempt to avoid the shortcomings of a waterfall development process. Now we can do better. We prefer functionality over documentation. Well written code should be transparent to a seasoned developer. If it is not, see the two qualifications in the previous sentence. Commenting usually just mis-specifies what's going on, lets people get away with writing sloppy code, and encourages people to not read code that they ought to.

The main exception to the above is the documentation of API interfaces, which is really an extension of the concept of encapsulation. In this case, the developer really shouldn't have to read the code in question (though in practice one always winds up having to read a little).

Comment Re:Bullshit! (Score 1) 421

Yeah, the parent is wrong, but you, anon, are a troll.

The fundamental basis of perpetual economic growth is increasingly efficient production, so that even if resources are limited, we use them more effectively. This has nothing to do with trade. Given a free market, any trade should increase _utility_ and trades will continue until utility is maximized. Look here.

money is a limited resource

No, money is not a resource at all. Nor does the fed modify the money supply by printing money. The money supply is expanded and contracted through interest rates. When the interest rate is low, inflation will be high, your money will devalue more quickly, and the hope is that this will increase welfare within the whole economy.

The reason we're in 'this mess' is because we have markets at all. If you read your history, you'll find that there's a very repeatable pattern in all markets of booms and busts of non-normally distributed magnitude. These booms and busts are also accompanied by public figures decrying the irresponsibility of speculators and the blindness of regulators. The people who make the biggest deal of a bust usually are the people who are vying for political power.

There is no mess. This economic downturn is part of business as usual. Now if you want to talk about growing volatility, then we might have something to discuss.

Comment Trust me, the problem is not quantum foam. (Score 1) 421

You could also say LTCM blew up because some guys from Goldman downloaded their tradebook, called their buddies, and everybody traded against it until the fund imploded. See this book.

Or you could say that by using Black-Scholes on historical data that one is incorporating the possibility of a given position being attacked. You'd be wrong if you did, though, because Black-Scholes assumes a Wiener process, which is in turn based on the normal distribution. This means it ab-initio excludes runaway processes like the market turning on you.

The problem is that most models extrapolate future price as a function of current price and history, when in reality prices are a function of current price and expected future price in the market. Expected future price is difficult for academics to get a handle on, so instead they make models on tractable subjects that have nothing to do with reality... then everybody acts surprised when reality doesn't behave according to the model.

When you take economics classes, you hear that if you behave well, in the next life you'll become a physicist, but if you behave badly, you'll be reborn a sociologist. Problem is, markets _are_ a sociological construct. But I guess I should be a little more to the point: All of this game theory crap, along with CAPM, APT, GARCH, DDM, etc is just a bunch of ivory tower bullshit.

Comment Re:Perspective (Score 1) 675

Interesting point about the big 3 automakers. I must admit I'm not the biggest fan of traditional economics, but there is this theory of Monopolistic Competition that speaks to how companies may influence consumers / dictate prices when they face limited competition. In addition to the big 3, it seems like it has some relevance to this situation with media content providers, whom also seem to be facing a deluge of new competition.

Basically, the idea is that when there's a lot of competition, you do what the consumer wants at the price the consumer is willing to pay, or you go out of business, but when you face little competition, you have leeway to dictate terms to the consumer. Obviously, if you're a company making a transition from the latter to the former scenario, you might experience discomfort.

Submission + - The end of US Internet freedom?

clang_jangle writes: That's the claim made by the Inquirer in an article reporting some ominous observations about the FCC's impending rules regarding net neutrality.

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has decided that it will police the Internet to make sure that the large ISPs — telecom and cable companies, mostly — do not force a two-tiered Internet on the American public.
However a group of prominent law professors has warned the FCC that buried in the fine print of its proposed Net Neutrality rules are potential loopholes that if left open could be exploited by the ISPs in connivance with the entertainment cartels to undermine the future of Internet freedom.
Columbia University Law School professor and Free Press board chair Tim Wu told the Washington Post about the letter after submitting it to the FCC.

The letter the profs submitted is available here (PDF warning).

Wii

Is There a Future For Mature Games On Wii? 186

digitalfever writes "There are more than 50 million Wii systems worldwide. Logically, the audience for a wide range of games and interactive experiences should be rather big, but based on the evidence so far, either that's not true — or publishers have been hedging the wrong bets. No one has conclusively proved the case for (or against) the viability of mature games on Wii, but 2009 was a litmus test on a number of fronts, including the DS. The results aren't encouraging. "

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