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Comment South Africa still has the advantage (Score 2, Interesting) 60

I've been following the bid process for SKA for quite a few years. As far as I can tell South Africa (together with its other Southern African partners) have a clear advantage over Australia (now together with NZ)

There are a few reasons for this:

1. The passing of the South Africa's Astronomy Geographic Advantage Act in 2007 declares almost the whole of the Northern Cape province (an area about 1.5 times that of the UK) into an astronomy advantage area. Amongst other things it means that light pollution will be limited and that the whole area will eventually be turned into a radio quiet zone.

2. Much of the technology used in South Africa's pilot program (MeerKAT) will be directly useable in SKA. By comparison, the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder project has much less tech that will be useable in SKA without major redesign and modification.

3. Price. From the start keeping the price down was a very high priority goal for the SA bid. E.g. they developed a new process to manufacture the dishes that is much cheaper than conventional methods. Now, after the credit crunch where many scientific budgets are getting cut, this strategy is paying off.

Disclaimer 1: I am a South African and therefore far from neutral
Disclaimer 2: The last time I read extensively on this is more than six months ago, so if there were significant developments recently then I might not be aware of them

Comment Well said... (Score 5, Insightful) 291

Just ran out of mod points, so I'll rather add this:

Somewhere the public perception of copyright (and other IP rights) went from "a time limited incentive to encourage the creation of novel content" to "content creators have the right to get paid in perpetuity".

Because of the technological and legal environment of the 20th century it was possible for content creators and distributors to make insane amounts of money for a very limited amount of work.

That created the idea that they have some god-given right to get paid for absolutely everything that ever gets done with their content or anything that is derived from it. That has not been the case for most of history and it will almost certainly not be the case in the future ... and no that will not mean the end of music and art.

Comment Re:Microsoft confirms it! (Score 2, Interesting) 596

When looking at where else all those unlicensed users would go if they didn't become legal Windows users, Apple doesn't really come into it much.

Well put. This actually happened to me recently.

My home PC had a volume licensed version of XP on it that I got from the company I worked for a few years back. Suddenly, about a month ago, my Windows Genuine Advantage started failing and my PC started nagging me about it the whole time.

I have used Linux a lot in the past but I've never had it installed as the main OS on my primary PC.

This incident was the last bit of motivation that I needed to switch to Linux. I have now been running Kubuntu 8.10 for two weeks and I love it. I can't think of any reason to switch back.

Comment Re:FUCK ARTISTS (Score 1) 685

OK, let's raise a few points (full of simplifications, but I hope you get the gist of it):

Art is as old as humanity itself and the creation of art has been something that most people would engage in. Much later the idea of a professional artist came about. Over time the trend has been more and more to have to classes of people - the artists who produce art and the common folk who consume it.

Rich patrons paid for the creation of art by professional artists, but they were not the only consumers. Common folk could go to theatres or live music performances.

Art was democratised by technology, not by copyright laws. Copyright was created to place limits on what could be done to make sure that artists will benefit (for a limited period) from the work they created before it became part of the public domain.

For the largest part of the 20th century the technology was as such a stage that you needed large amount of resources to mass produce copies of art. This gave large corporations the same kind of monopoly on the creation of art that rich patrons had in an earlier era. They profited hugely from the state of technology and from copyright laws that were originally intended to foster innovation, protect individual artists and benefit society as a whole.

There are many problems with the way big corporations abuse copyright, but one of the worst is the way that they keep on pushing for copyright extension. They want to take from society and give nothing back. Take Disney for example. If you go through their products you will find hundreds examples of them profiting from the public domain (Snow White, Cinderella, the Three Little Pigs, Treasure Island .. you can fill pages with this). Yet they will do everything in their power to make copyrights perpetual. Mickey Mouse is now more than a hundred years old and yet they still retain exclusive rights. It does not benefit the original artists and it stifles innovation - the exact opposite of what copyright law was intended to do. If you have a child in kindergarten, they can't put up a play with Disney characters in them without infringing on their copyright.

In the mean time technology has progressed to a point where the stranglehold that large media conglomerates have on art are no longer the natural state of affairs, but they will fight tooth and claw to keep their racket going.

Technology has moved on, but our laws are still largely from the 18th century except that they have over time been skewed in favour of corporation and against the rights of artists and society as a whole.

Laws need to catch up.

Comment Re:FUCK ARTISTS (Score 1) 685

Yes! It's only a matter of time until Slashdot's heroes, the Pirate Bay operators, get away with this. It's our right as human beings to rip off artists and not pay them, and it's totally awesome for Pirate Bay to run a torrent tracker that connects users so that they can distribute file chunks to each other.

FUCK artists, and FUCK their rights. They are our slaves. We don't owe them a dime for their work. Long live, Pirate Bay, and enjoy the victory, guys!

Yes of course - art only came into existence when copyright was invented in the 1700's and it will instantly disappear once copyright is gone. People like you act as if copyright is some divine right that was handed down from the hand of God himself.

Your view of the situation is extremely simplistic. The main problem is that current copyright laws mostly protect the profits of big corporations, they don't benefit artists and they discourage rather than encourage innovation.

The current laws are outdated and they don't work, but there are many companies willing to spend millions to maintain the status quo. Copyright laws must be completely rewritten so that they accomplish what they were intended to do in the first place: help society as a whole by encouraging innovation by ensuring that artists get their due.

Comment Re:BeOS: still my favorite UI (Score 1) 448

I have experienced the highest level of responsiveness from an OS with BeOS - this is still unsurpassed.

I totally agree. This is what I liked most about BeOS. I find it amazing that with a super fast modern CPU and 4GB RAM I am still able to render my PC unresponsive for a few seconds - in both Windows and Linux!

That NEVER happened with BeOS, even on very poor hardware.

Man I would love to see what a Be-like OS can do on modern hardware.

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