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Comment Re:Finally! (Score 1) 224

Stallman is actually less (ethically) invested in the freedom of works of art than he is about practical software tools. He probably wouldn't like Steam's DRM, but I don't think DRM on games is capable of imposing the same kind of subjugation that he sees done by companies who produce tools which are more strictly necessary to the lives and livelihoods of their customers.

Although I'm not a proper Stallmanite, I do see a powerful ethical dimension to the motivations for producing free software (and free culture as related to education). I don't see anything evil in the minimal kind of DRM imposed by Steam, and although I would praise any game company who opened the source code to their engine, or Valve if they opened the source code to the distribution system itself, I don't feel compelled to condemn game companies who don't do so. Those are my two cents, for whatever they're worth, as someone intellectually and ethically committed to the principles of free software.

(I wouldn't call it a religion for me because my views about the importance of share-alike copyright licenses, like the GPL, are grounded in other principles that could yield different prescriptions when applied in novel circumstances. But I do often do things make the choice to use free software out of principle, even where technically superior non-free solutions are available. You decide if my views are radical enough to for me to speak on behalf of the subset of the F/OSS community you'd like to address.)

Comment Re:What kind of congress is that? (Score 4, Insightful) 435

Yeah. It's always seemed to me that because Slashdot generally consists of an intelligent, well-educated readership (bullshit posts and nonsense traditions aside), they have inherited some liberal social views, but the engineering contingent here is too strong to allow anything but a very pragmatic sort of outlook, because of which Slashdot tends to leans toward more conservative attitudes about the nature of ideas and justification. The libertarian streak within /.ers I think is mostly rooted in a kind of skepticism toward policy.

But yeah. Slashdot definitely has an archetypal political outlook, but it's not one quite so simple as ‘liberal’ or ‘conservative’.

Comment Re:Losses, but due to piracy? (Score 1) 311

I could support this view. Copyright, with some corrections/restorations, can stay as a part of the new plan to encourage creative works. It should simply be acknowledged as a temporary monopoly on distribution (rather than property, which it is not), and recognized as a tool rather than an end in itself.

Comment Re:Losses, but due to piracy? (Score 1) 311

I think it may have to do with the fact that the youth have little or no income, and so their choice is between copying music and just not having it.

But what does 'learning how the world works' really mean here? Which part of learning how the world works might bring this sense of guilt? Is it becoming more familiar with societal expectations? Is it a richer understanding of how laws like copyright seek to support the arts? Is it a more altruistic idea of fairness?

You may be right, but I do wonder just which part of learning how the world works may produce this effect.

Comment Re:Losses, but due to piracy? (Score 2) 311

There's a problem with your post in that you assume that music pirates only use the irrelevance of music sales to revenue for most artists as a dishonest rationalization. All of the behavior/psychology described in your post could be restated simply as ‘people are more interested in seeing through the success of the artist than they are in supporting the success of some salesman’. They may not necessarily feel any guilt about piracy to begin with. The younger generations certainly don't. The RIAA doesn't have to be evil to justify the view that pirating music is morally acceptable. The facts that (a) publishers are not artists, and (b) copyright law is, for the citizens whose interests it ought to serve in any democracy, purely instrumental, and only valuable to the extent which it helps introduce new art into the ecosystem (which was once-upon-a-time called ‘the public domain’) are enough.

This isn't a view which comes from a place of reflexive entitlement, either. In the case of online piracy, pirates ask nothing of the publishers — they download nothing from the publishers themselves. There is nothing about the view that I should be able to copy a recording from a friend which entails any obligations toward me, on the part of the publisher (or even the artist). The only demand made is one of rational thought: for all parties involved to recognize that ideas are not objects, and do not share the constraints of actual objects. They are not natural property, and the enormous legal efforts to make ideas emulate natural property have proven ineffective in the face of recent technological developments. But this is okay, because the goal of ensuring the production of creative works for the sake of the public good remains attainable by other means — and we can resume pursuit of that goal as soon as we abandon this sinking ship of ideas-as-property.

Comment Re:who's paying for it? (Score 1) 706

Please note that, as a civilized country, we use the metric system.)

Hey, man. I deserve no more blame for the bullshit system of measurement I have to use than you deserve credit for inventing metric. I guess if you need to feel better than me, you're just gonna have to get to know me better. ;-)

(And yeah, I don't think US oil subsidy is ultimately a good thing for the market or the planet, either.)

Comment Re:Have you been living under a rock for the last (Score 1) 1009

The point about veterans is an important one. But it also seems obvious to me that if the US military was ever ordered to fire on the American people in such a way as to constitute a revolution, the main force that would end up fighting against the US military would be a huge portion of defectors from within it. US soldiers are US citizens, and probably most of them have families of some sort or another. Things have gotten pretty shitty in terms of legislation, but I'm still a long way from believing that if asked to, the military would simply comply with an order to assault US civilians.

Comment Re:here (Score 1) 328

As a computer science student who has planned his academic career with a commercial one in mind, but is considering tacking on a philosophy major because he just can't stay away from it, I agree. This is important. I hope that anyone seeking to get a degree in philosophy in order to pursue a career in philosophy is met with success. But anyone with such intent should know by now or very soon learn that academic philosophy is very difficult, extremely competitive, and generally requires a LOT of schooling. Aside from teaching, major success in philosophy only happens for a lucky few, and even some of today's most important philosophers were largely unrecognized or undervalued during their lifetime. (The political philosophy which grounds the legal tradition of the US and its Constitution, for example, pre-dates it by several generations.)

The mistake some people make is that a degree in philosophy is, or ought to be, a step towards a career elsewhere. If you are currently pursuing a degree in philosophy, but only because you enjoy that subject for your general education, make other plans for a career elsewhere. Don't pretend that you can do otherwise.

It sucks, because there are many wonderful pursuits that are hard to making a living on. I think they should still be pursued wherever that's possible, but we should just be honest with ourselves about (a) the difficulty of attaining success in our fields, (b) the motive for our pursuit of knowledge, and (c) whether or not the initial plan (a single bachelor's degree --> a professional career --> no more formal education ever again) will satisfy all our goals realistically.

We absolutely need good philosophers and psychologists, not to mention artists of all sorts. But there's no shortage of people who just kinda dug those subjects in their twenties, so don't pretend that kinda digging something for a few years is a career move!

Comment Re:Still searching for "perfect" mp3 player (mplay (Score 1) 152

Here are a few good command-line tools for managing and playing your music:
  dnuos, a list-generating script which you could use to create something like your catalog.txt file. It's pretty nice, and it can do things like read the metadata of the files if you want, as well as the file names.
  morituri, a command line CD ripper with error correction support and metadata fetching
  beets, a command line music manager which includes an MPD server and so can be interacted with using any number of command line MPD clients

I think beets + [some command line MPD client] would be best for you. I'm a happy Amarok user, but I've got a large collection that is partially hosted on a little Samba server that was for a long time headless, so I've played with command line management tools and I found beets and morituri to be very impressive. I hope one of those links is useful to you. :-)

Comment Re:Tell them this (Score 1) 315

I work for a youth organization, and I always have kids watching what I do and going "Cool, can you teach me how to hack?" Invariably, they get disappointed when I show them how to ssh into a remote machine and recompile the kernel instead of breaking into a DoD mainframe and launch missiles at China or something. And anytime I do try and generate interest in actual programming, it is hard to get past the "How do you program games?" point. Let's work past printf and scanf first, junior.

This won't help OP, but I know that sometimes what it takes to get someone to realize what computer science really is a full computer science course. When I was in high school, I took a total of 5 computer science courses, three of which were for college credit. Although I definitely had ‘making video games’ in mind when I signed up for my first computer science course, but it wasn't long until I learned that what made programming fun for me wasn't the type of product I was building. By my second computer science course (the first with any real coding), I grew out of my ‘dream’ of being a video game programmer because I so enjoyed the problem-solving and algorithmic design aspects of ‘boring’ projects like text parsing, implementing data structures, storage formats (cheesy little text-based ‘databases’).

I doubt whether they can get it from a 20-minute talk, but I know that high-schoolers can certainly learn what computer science is really about, and also that the fundamentals of computer science and programming are more satisfying subjects in themselves than any video game.

Comment Re:let's not forget (Score 1) 455

$ aptitude show gnome-session-fallback
[snip]
Description: GNOME Session Manager - GNOME fallback session
  The GNOME Session Manager is in charge of starting the core components of the
  GNOME desktop, and applications that should be launched at login time. It also
  features a way to save and restore currently running applications.

  This package contains the required components for the GNOME 3 fallback session,
  based on the GNOME Panel. It can be started from a display manager such as GDM,
  and doesn’t have specific hardware requirements.

The GNOME 3 fallback session uses the same interpretation of the desktop metaphor as GNOME 2 (the panel). I think it shows up in the DM session list as ‘Gnome Classic’.

Comment Re:I moved to kubuntu (Score 1) 455

I've been using KDE as long as I've been using GNU/Linux (~7 years), and Kubuntu as long as I've been using an Ubuntu-based distro. I still love KDE.

That said, I've installed Unity/Oneiric on my secondary/guest computer in the main room, and I'm very impressed with it. I think it's a really cool system. I'm comfortable using it, and I'd recommend it to anyone. I like it much better than Gnome. You should give it a shot. Just install it alongside KDE and log into it once or twice to try it out.

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