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Comment Customers have choice! (Score 1) 312

Customers have choice. If you make content available under reasonable terms, they may be your customer. If not, they won't. I decided a couple of years ago that the cable company's terms were unreasonable, so I cancelled my cable. With over the air HD, internet streaming and DVDs, I don't miss it.

While many tv shows people have mentioned are from U.S. cable tv networks, I've seen top-quality stuff from other sources. Recent faves include Borgen and Scott & Bailey, both from "regular" (albeit European) TV channels. Who would have thought Danish parliamentary democracy would make such gripping drama? And Janet and Rachel can arrest me any time they like. :-)

I've watched Borgen on DVD, and am currently streaming S&B on youtube. When ITV get around to releasing series 3 on DVD I'll buy it. Reasonable terms, remember.


Comment Excessive coverage == the sickoids win (Score 1) 317

The news coverage leaves a lot to be desired, IMNSHO.

Something terrible happened. People were hurt. People died. Not good.

The authorities are investigating. As they should.

They caught the pricks. They wasted one in the process. Good.

The hysterical saturation coverage of all of this, however, gives these sick fucks and their filthy ilk exactly what they want: free publicity, plus public fear.

I've tried to avoid the coverage. It's difficult at times...


Comment Re:and this kids is why (Score 1) 476

Double Bullshit, karma-whore.

Of course, there are plenty of problems for which excel is not suitable, such as when the data sets get too large. However, for quite a few other real world problems, it is far more than adequate. Anyway, this is slashdot so note how this was sold as an "Excel error" when clearly it was an operator error.

Comment Moot point (Score 3, Interesting) 461

I view the point as moot: almost all food already is genetically modified, through selective breeding. Many things we eat bear little resemblance to their wild ancestors.

I'm more concerned about companies asserting intellectual property rights to food.

I'm also concerned about the "oppose everything" mentality. Some day something will come along that really is worth opposing and people will tune out because the tinfoil hat brigade have cried wolf too many times.


Comment Hydrogen, helium, and payloads (Score 2) 90

Funny how we call helium a scarce resource... it's the 2nd most common element in the Universe.

In the universe, yes. On Earth, no. All the helium on Earth has been here from the beginning, and no process on Earth is creating more. Once it's released in to the atmosphere, it's gone.

I'm always envious of stuff like this. Where I live (southwestern British Columbia, Canada), it would be very difficult to retrieve a payload that came down 100 km away, in just about any direction. A steerable RC glider is an option I've thought about. Live video, GPS and telemetry would make me even more motivated to get the aircraft back.


Comment Re:I don't work for Google... (Score 1) 167


One of those legacy applications here is a customer service web page. The search function is particularly useless: it returns nothing at all, every document on the site, or a random selection of dead links. I've suggested to its maintainer that it should be rewritten (if it serves any purpose at all, which is debatable...). He's dragging his heels.


Comment I don't work for Google... (Score 3, Interesting) 167

...but I've followed them closely.

A long time ago I noted that the biggest challenge of the Internet was going to be finding things. As an undergrad I earned a bit of extra money working in the university library, and was told, on my very first day, that if you don't put something in the right place you might as well throw it away, because it's unlikely anybody will be able to find it otherwise. Now we have Google. Dave Cheriton was one of my undergrad profs, BTW, a 2nd year course in data structures that used Pascal.

Another lesson from my undergrad days is that the structure of a product is isomorphic to the structure of the group that created it. I currently support legacy software that was created by people who never talked to each other, who never even sat down for a chat over lunch. It shows. The interface specs read like legal contracts. The product line worked for a while, but is now unmaintainable, unsupportable, well in to its end of life bug explosion, and we are actively developing replacements.

The company imploded in 2001. What was left tried a looser development process. It sort of worked, but eventually failed. The biggest issue was a couple of extremely forceful people who steamrollered their own pet ideas and who refused to listen to others. The bosses needed to rein them in, and didn't. It cost us the company.

Our current development model is basically a surgical team in a skunkworks sort of environment. Head office is in Dallas. I'm in Vancouver. The physical separation is helpful. There aren't enough of us in the company to do much else. It works. We're doing good work. The company is making money. The bosses are happy. We're happy.

I like a lot of what Google is doing. I like the encouragement to be creative. Good people are creative, and if they're going to be creative, you might as well get them to be creative for you. And you have to take some risks. Not all decisions are right. Not all products are winners. But if you don't risk failure, you don't risk success either.

I have issues with the work/life balance implicit in the Googleplex work environment. Maybe I'm too old or something (I'm 51), but I expect to have a life apart from my work.


Comment Re:"Cache-land" (Score 0) 101

forgive me for responding to an AC, but what an absolutely dumb response you wrote.

there are clear standards for 'fair use'. You can read about them at

your "you want your stuff public" argument is bullshit. everything in a bookstore, movie theater, etc is "public." This doesn't automatically give the right for others to republish those things, in their entirety, for profit, as google does. your claim of "absolute control" is bullshit. i never claimed there should be - i specifically referenced fair use, which is the mechanism by which creators and rightsholders dont have "absolute control."

However, I contend that what google is doing is pretty much as close as you get to "absolute thievery" - total republishing for money. so, this in my view is not some trivial marginal case at the limits of fair use. in many ways, as far as the sites are concerned, its probably about as infringing as you can get.

or, if not, i'd like to hear some argument why not without the special pleading legally nonsensical "you want your stuff public?" casuistic schtick.

Comment Re:Thats how searchengines work (Score 1) 101

great. but i'm not talking about the snippets. i'm talking about the mechanism in google and elsewhere where you can see essentially complete copies of the webpages. have you even read the original article? moreover, do you think i can make such a reasoned objection (which you may or may not agree with) without knowing how search engines work?

Comment Re:"Cache-land" (Score 0) 101

No, there is nothing whatsoever in my post in which I claim or insinuate that slashdot is illegal. Google republishes as much as the entirety of websites for profit and without commentary.

Read this page:

Slashdot takes small portions of articles for the purpose of commentary, review, and education (and/or journalism). Its use generally have little to no effect upon the potential market. the amounts quoted are modest.

completely different from the google cacheing/republishing situation.

your "posted publicly" claim is bullshit. there is no theory in copyright law in which public performance, publishing, or aviailability somehow invalidate copyright. just because you hear a song on the bus doesn't mean that it's in the public domain or that you can therefore makes CDs of it and start selling it.

Comment Re:"Cache-land" (Score 0) 101

"Fair use" is about the recipient (a.k.a. the user, the buyer, the reseller and such terms), and other second and possibly third parties, holding some limits on therights holder's ability to enforce copyright under certain circumstances. Saying Google's actions pass "no test of fair use whatsoever" because they might be opposed by the rights holder, or even cause some objectively verifiable problems for the rights holder, is like saying 'innocent until proven guilty' should be abolished because it doesn't help the state get convictions.

There is a clear four-pronged test of what constitutes fair use in the USA. Please explain to me how google's cachng of entire websites for profit is consistent with any of these. In fact, it very much violates two of them. You've written a long paragraph based on apparently your belief that "fair use" is some abstract concept. it isn't. Read the wikipedia page or wherever you need to go to learn about Fair Use 101 and get back to me.

    If your only goal is that the copyright holder be able to act without checks and balances

I never said or insinuated anything remotely like this. Shame on you for suggesting something like this. In fact, quite the opposite--I explicitly referred to fair use, which is a "check and balance" (though that's a horrible word choice) on the use of works.

"Cacheing" in double quotes because I contend it's actually republishing, or at least that the differences between the two are negligible.

You've written a lot of legalistic sounding bullshit without actually having any real understanding of what Fair Use is, it seems.

The Berne treaty has no bearing here. I am specifically asking about the legal theory, perfesser, under which you claim it is legal for google to do what it does - republish the content of entire websites for money without the creator's permission.. inside the USA, if you prefer to keep the discussion simple.

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