Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

Comment Re:missing the point (Score 1) 98

I was talking about the rationale to create the GPL, that implies when it was first created and not the state that exists today. When the GPL was first created it was for software primarily intended for developers. Initially this evolved from the license first used with GNU Emacs, but then when formalized as a "license as subroutine" it was applied to other GNU programs which were primarily GCC and other Unix tools replacements.

Most of the clauses in the GPL are there precisely to allow the end user to modify the program, not just inspect the source code, or at least get a helper to do the modifications (ie, the sysadmin). This means that the end user can actually do the modifications and recompile and run the modified program, thus all portions must be present to allow a full rebuild.

Comment Re:Not Surprising at all! (Score 1) 192

AOL was a latecomer, and thought it could take it's own user base and take over the web and internet which already had more users than AOL did, plus a much longer history and an open architecture. Though in some ways AOL did win because the internet and web eventually became highly commercialized.

Comment Re:300,000 Machines? (Score 1) 201

I really wanted to get a job repairing typewriters when I was in highschool, as there was a shop that did this downtown. These were the most nerdy things around, even compared to the nascent microcomputer industry. Hundreds of tiny parts all of which are unique and which must be fitted together precisely like a puzzle. Of course the vast majority of repairs would have been just cleaning them (more likely to be gummed up than to have parts actually break). But I think it would have been fun for a summer.

Comment Re:Last repairman? (Score 1) 201

Conservation is being messed up here. There is more to just recycling to conservation. It also means to be frugal, to not throw away something that is working fine merely because it's out of fashion. Conservation should be about not throwing stuff away, whereas the big recycling push encourages us to throw things away as long as it's to the right bin.

You inadvertantly express exactly what is wrong here: people want a new product with new features or performance, and will unthinkingly throw away something that is not broken just to get something new. This is selfishness.

Labor is cheap, that's why all these toxic computer parts are sent to third world countries where they are "recycled" by hand without any expensive safety monitoring or actual re-use of parts.

Comment Re:Last repairman? (Score 1) 201

Most devices that are sent to recycle centers are only crudely recycled. Ie, computer monitors will have wires ripped out to be melted down but the rest will go to a landfill. That's not really recycling. At best it's a feel-good solution so that naive consumers can stop worrying and start spending more money. Many modern devices are designed to make recycling nearly impossible; like sealed smart phones or tablets filled with resin to give them a solid feel.

Comment Re:Last repairman? (Score 1) 201

Quality control is only part of the issue. Today we have a culture that will throw away a relatively new mobile phone that merely because there's a new model available. There's not enough time given to items for them to even break.

We had an article this week making the assumption that everyone with a 5 year old HDTV is ready to replace them with new models. If they're breaking already then these have LESS quality than televisions of 30 or 40 years ago. But they're not breaking, they're not even obsolete, they're just not "new" and so the modern consumer who is obsessed with newness wants a replacement.

Comment Re:Last repairman? (Score 1) 201

It's s throw-away culture. It also means no need to have quality or plan for a device that will last 20 years or more. It used to be when you bought an appliance you would have it for quite a few decades; typewriters, televisions, adding machines, washing machines, telephones, bicycles, etc.

People look back at the 50s and ridicule it as an era of conspicuous consumption and planned obsolescence, but it seems probable that we're more wasteful today in many ways.

Many times we discard items that are still working just to get a new one. You don't need someone to repair an item when it's thrown away before it breaks.

Comment Re:Just one question (Score 1) 333

Yes, but you can use Apple computers for stuff other than Apple development. I am not a MacOS or iOS programmer, except as far as creating in-house tools.

The real problem though is the weird hybrid that Apple added. /usr/bin/gcc is not GCC and is also not LLVM, but a mix of the two. If you use "gcc" it claims to be GCC-4.2.1 even though it rejects some code that should work for gcc 4.2.1. I'd have been happier if they just got rid of gcc altogether rather than leave around a legacy version that doesn't work as it caused a lot of wasted time and confusion.

Comment Re:New Zealand didn't ban software patents... (Score 1) 98

Basically I'm not anti-patent, but software patents just strike me as completely wrong. Mostly because the overwhelming majority of them are crap, either overly broad idea obvious to anyone who has thought about the problem, or ideas that have been done previously by someone who didn't think to patent it (or couldn't afford the expense of patenting).

But overall patents still have a chance of succeeding at their original goal: provide a limited monopoly in exchange for disclosing your new invention. Note that the goal here was not to encourage invention directly, but to open up the invention instead of keeping it secret. Thus we can build upon the foundations of people before us, we don't have to join guilds to learn secrets about how machine work. There is indirect encouragement of invention still, there is some hope of being able to build and create a business with the invention before the giant corporation takes the idea and makes it cheaper and bankrupting you. This can work with software patents, assuming it isn't abused like it is currently.

Problem with sofware is that too often there is nothing new about the patent, nothing is novel. Something can be an "innovation" without being worthy of a patent, after all a new version of Word is an innovation. You need people in the field to think that it is a great new invention or that it took a lot of time and effort to refine the idea, and it's irrelevant what the end users who don't know the field think about it (some hipster marvelling at slide-to-unlock). Anything over broad needs to be disallowed right off the bat, no more "method to remotely upgrade firmware on a device" unless it is a very specific and novel technique that does not forbid all possible expressions of the concept.

Similarly the time granted to patents is too long for the pace of software change, I think it may even be too long in other areas given the ability to rapidly create a new factory and supply chain and marketing channels for a new product, much faster than was imagined by the creators of patent law. Something between 5 and 10 years seems appropriate for a software patent. 5 years is very short, many startups don't even get their first product out the door in that time, and 5 years is shorter than some patent lawsuits. 10 years seems reasonable to me especially if we're also getting rid of the vast majority of software patents anyway and keeping only the really good ones.

Comment Re:missing the point (Score 1) 98

It can help both. Most early open source (before the term was invented) was libraries intended for use by other programmers. The whole rational behind the GPL is to preserve the right of the user to modify the code, thus the user is also a programmer.

Slashdot Top Deals

Whom the gods would destroy, they first teach BASIC.

Working...