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Comment Vote on it... but not necessarily enact it (Score 2) 103

6/7 years ago, the Finnish parliament voted in the current "pussi paskaa" copyright law. Now, assuming that more than 1% of the population adds their names to a poll in favour of that law being amended (probably a racing certainty), the Finnish parliament has to vote yes/no on the question "did we make a huge mistake here?".

Given that Finland is part of the Euro currency group within the EU, there will probably be significant pressure from political groups within the EU that are backed by the European copyright lobby, as well as significant pressure generated by the RIAA/MPAA. There will also be pressure domestically from the Finnish copyright lobby, which was powerful enough to get the law passed in the first place.

So unless the number of people signing up for a review of the law exceeds 50% (probably not even then... 75% or even 90% might be needed) of the population of Finland, I doubt there is much chance of a vote on the subject gaining the required parliamentary support to overturn or amend the law.

Comment Release schedule driven solely by Product people? (Score 1) 366

If by "Product" people, the OP means sales/marketing people, then this will be a constant problem, the development team will always be to blame, and you will always feel like a cross between Sisyphus and a dung beetle.
First, you will need a development manager with the authority to hold the release of a product version.
Second, you will need a development manager with the backbone to stand up to pressure from the "product" people and push back.
Third, you will need a development manager who protects you from the "product" people who are used to coming to you directly and dropping tasks on you.
Fourth, you will need a development manager who will inspire your development team to change their coding habits from fighting fires to development based on a plan. Whether than inspiration comes from higher pay, a kick up the arse, threat of firing or good old-fashioned physical intimidation/sexual innuendo is dependent on whatever works on the individual developers.
Finally, you need all of those development managers to be the same person.
Once you have that person in place, they need to adopt a specific development methodology - Scrum, Agile, fundamentally it does not matter at this point. You are starting from such a low level of code quality that it sounds as though just about anything will be an improvement, as long as all the developers are pulling in the same direction.
The development manager sits down with the "product" people, establishes a list of required features for the next version, and either talks to the team about estimated development times or comes up with that figure themselves. Add time for comprehensive testing and bug fixing (not all bugs, just the major ones), plus a little extra time. That gives the release date. Product people want it sooner? Fine... what features shall we take out? Once the feature list and timeline is established, if the product people want to add features or change their mind, then either the release date is moved or those changes are held over to the next version, or other pre-agreed features that have not yet been developed are held over.
The development manager will be the most hated person in the office for about 6 months, and (s)he will need the full backing of the company directors because you can be sure that the product people will be on the directors' cases 24x7 complaining about the obstructive person. It is not an easy job, it is not a nice job, but it is one that I have done at a couple of companies, and once the product people see a release come out on time and relatively bug-free, they will start to come around.

Comment Re:Three Felonies a Day (Score 2) 390

We do need more protection from federal government overreach. But Swartz is a lousy poster boy, because physically breaking into a network and committing massive copyright violation really is a criminal offense in many places, and it was reasonable to charge him.

Whether or not he should be prosecuted is one thing, but for (presumably) one count of Breaking & Entering, and multiple counts of Copyright Violation, the circus that grew up around Swartz before the state dropped those original charges was disproportionate.
As for the punishment, Massachusetts State Law on the subject of Breaking & Entering with intent to commit a felony (what he was originally charged with) has this to say:
"Section 16. Whoever, in the night time, breaks and enters a building, ship, vessel or vehicle, with intent to commit a felony, or who attempts to or does break, burn, blow up or otherwise injures or destroys a safe, vault or other depository of money, bonds or other valuables in any building, vehicle or place, with intent to commit a larceny or felony, whether he succeeds or fails in the perpetration of such larceny or felony, shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for not more than twenty years or in a jail or house of correction for not more than two and one-half years."

That in itself raises questions - Swartz's intention was to commit Copyright Violation, which in itself is only a felony under certain circumstances - Copyright infringement is a felony only if the infringement involved reproduction or distribution of at least 10 copies of copyrighted works worth more than $2,500 in a 180-day period, or involved distribution of a "work being prepared for commercial distribution" over a publicly-accessible computer network. As we are talking about much more than 10 articles, where access to the articles is free under restricted circumstances, which were downloaded over a period of a few weeks, a felony charge is not beyond the bounds of possibility with a penalty of 20 years in State Prison, or a Correction Facility for 2.5 years. However, that charge was dropped in early 2012.
Carmen Ortiz et al then opened a case based on Wire Fraud, Computer Fraud, unlawfully obtaining information, and reckless damage. Effectively, this was to be a prosecution under 18 USC 1343 - Fraud by wire, radio, or television, and 18 U.S.C. 1030 - Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Both of those pieces of legislation are so vaguely worded that their use as legislative statues cannot easily be established by reading the Acts themselves, so a body of case law needs to be built up to establish the actual meaning of the wording of the Acts. In the case of 18 USC 1343, the law has been on the books since the 1950's, so there is a substantial (but not entirely consistent) body of case law to define its scope. In the case of CFAA, the body of case law is still being formed so the result is probably a crapshoot, with the prosecutors hoping to use Swartz's violation of the JSTOR ToS as grounds for prosecution... which brings me to the question of the day - when was the last time anyone (apart from me) read through the ToS for a web site or the EULA for a piece of software to see what it did or did not allow, and whether your intended use would violate those ToS, thus making you potentially liable for prosecution under the CFAA?

Sorry for raising what might be a Straw Man, but I tend to assume that if you give someone in power a weapon, they will at some point find a way to use it in a way that is more in their own interest than the peoples' interest. Call me a cynic...

Comment Innocent until proven guilty... (Score 2) 328

It is possible that the chess equivalent of a lower-league football player could find incredible reserves of concentration and mental clarity for the first time in his career. It is equally possible that he could have solicited help in some imaginative form-
Take athletics as an example - an athlete who improves their personal best performances year on year has not yet reached their peak. But if they improve too much in one year, then the suspicion of drug-assistance is raised and they can be tested for that. Sometimes, the athlete is guilty, but the drug is so new that their tests return a negative result, so they are allowed to continue competing. Subsequent improvements in the test process allow for re-evaluation and retesting, and retrospective bans.
However, with a chess match, no such retrospective action can be taken because if the person cheated and was not caught, how are the invigilators (referees) going to retest? Was the cheating mechanism some kind of visual signal from the audience? If an audience is allowed to live-observe the games, you can have cameras on them, so that can be tested. But just about any other option involves the accused having some kind of signal receiver on their person, and that is not something that can be checked reliably retrospectively.
So if they are accused on the spot, then the onus must be on the accuser to prove the accusation on the spot. No proof? Then not guilty, resume the games.

Comment Re:In Financial Crisis, No Prosecutions of Top Fig (Score 1) 151

If you work on the basis that people trying to get into a position of power are doing so for one of two reasons:
1. Personal gain, money, power, influence, and the chance to live the high life; or
2. A genuine desire to help people and with the conviction that they are able to improve the lot of all people,

then when the people get into power, one of three things will happen.
Those who go in for reason 1 (and who are not dumb enough to get caught) will line their pockets. Those who go in for reason 2 will be offered the inducements that the "reason 1" people get. They will probably be tempted, and if they give in to temptation they will turn into more "reason 1" people, possibly without really realizing it. If the reason 2 group are tempted but resist, stay true to their ideals, and see everyone around them behaving like pigs at the feeding bucket, they will probably be tempted to expose the problems and educate the masses about what is going on. At that point, the "reason 1" people, with a collective will borne out of self-preservation instincts, will do everything they can to neutralize, silence, or otherwise discredit/eject the honest people from their sphere of influence.

If my (rather low) opinions of the people who seek power and influence is correct, then the honest types who could make a positive difference become ineffective, while the rest just do whatever they can to keep the gravy train rolling.

The only way to prevent that is to have oversight of those in power. The only way to prevent the corruption of those responsible for the oversight of the people in power is for the oversight to be performed by the broader community, not by specific individuals. That way, the cost of bribery/corruption becomes too high, and while human nature makes a group individually lazy, it also makes the group generally more honest as there is more scrutiny and less possibility of corruption.

Comment Re:Alternatives include (Score 4, Insightful) 270

Quoting from the Wikipedia article for Iodine,
"Iodine sensitivity is rare but has a considerable effect given the extremely widespread use of iodine-based contrast media".

So I would say that using Diatrizoic acid/diatrizoate as a Barium replacement (Hypaque, Gastrografin and Ultravist are the trade names) in cases where there is no flagged Iodine sensitivity in the patient is viable, with Barium being used in those rare cases (if in doubt, do a quick Iodine test, as far as I can recall the results are pretty quick - a drop of iodine on the inside of the wrist or elbow, a small rash will form if the recipient is sensitive, and the rash can be treated with standard rash creams (if the recipient is REALLY sensitive, anaphylactic shock is a possibility if a large amount of Ioidine is applied - you dip the person's arm in it - but if the sensitivity is that bad, it should already be flagged). This also has a positive effect for most people, who are generally short of the daily Iodine intake levels they should have.

Disclaimer, my medical knowledge is limited by the fact that I dated and lived with a med student for 7 years, helping her study and revise for exams. Talk to your doctor if you have concerns about your own potential Iodine sensitivity or Gastro-intestinal issues. Do not come to /. and expect sane medical opinions here...

Comment Programming/developing, or coding? (Score 1) 317

My personal definition of the terms are that programming/developing are akin to seeing a problem and writing an application to solve that problem. Coding is taking a problem description and solution specification developed by someone else, and translating that specification into a computer program.
The "coding" option only requires familiarity with the language and the coding tool being used, and seems to be closer to the process I think Adam and Bonnie are aiming for.
However, the "programming/developing" option requires much more mental effort on the part of the programmer, which is completely unrelated to the tool or language used. It involves an understanding of the problem space and the ability to identify areas where the assumptions you make about how things should work will not always hold true (the "what if..." scenarios that several other comments refer to.

As for the "fire it up instantly... get useful things done right away" approach, I am almost certain that a silent installer and a couple of select chapters of a "Dummies guide to " for just about any development tool will get you to the point where you can do something as "useful" as someone would be able to do when opening Excel for the first time - a basic arithmetic calculator.

Comment At work, what nationality do you meet most? (Score 1) 514

When I was working in the US (in California), I found Mexican Spanish to be the most useful. That was because the companies I worked at had a lot of Mexicans in cleaning and service roles, and when I was there in the evenings or pulling an all-nighter, almost everyone else in the building spoke Spanish as their first language and English as their second. I was never any good, but they all appreciated my attempts to avoid murdering their language, and they usually found it very funny when I said something wrong. If you are wondering about the value of that effort, my desk was cleaned when I asked for it to be cleaned, and left alone when I had a mess of papers all over it. No cords were moved, things broken or containers spilled.

If you are looking for a second language to use for communicating work issues, my advice would be to not bother with anything other than the very basic stuff, or focus on learning to understand the language without really speaking it. The outlook "I speak English so the world can talk to me in my language" is not the point of my suggestion - if you are speaking to a native Chinese person, in order for it to be logical to communicate in Cantonese or Mandarin, your Cantonese/Mandarin skills and technical vocabulary need to be better than that person's English skills/technical vocabulary. That is not going to happen, irrespective of whether you are talking to someone from China, India, Brazil...

You will sometimes find people who are not comfortable speaking English. If you can at least understand some of their language and make an effort at some basic phrases, they should feel better about their English level once they realize that their English is better than your ability with their language, and be willing to give it a go.

Comment What kind of management position is it? (Score 1) 219

At some of the companies I have worked in, the manager is exactly that - a manager, they are there to motivate, attend meetings, provide direction, and organize. At other places, the manager is effectively a project manager who is expected to jump in and write code when needed.
If they are expected to be the first type (the best type, in my opinion, if they are any good and their management style matches mine), then describe a generalized instance of a conflict within your team and ask how he solves it. Find out how he deals with an employee who is brilliant but not a team player (for example, a coder who writes birds nest code that only he can maintain, but something that is relevant to your company's field).
If they are expected to be the second type, dig into their technical skills and ask them how they plan to get up to speed on the specific technical aspects of the job, while carrying out their management role.
Also, consider turning the interview around for a few minutes half way through - give the candidate a BRIEF copy of your CV (half a side of A4 paper, rendered as 6-10 bullet points) and a couple of minutes to read it, then ask them to interview you for your current role. That will give you an idea of how well they mentally switch gears from one role to the other, and it also gives you a view of them as a manager that you otherwise would not get in the interview.

However, as with any relationship, you will probably not really get to know your potential manager until your relationship breaks down, and that is something you want to put off as long as possible, so try not to trash your relationship in the interview, just in case the person (a) gets the job, and (b) holds a grudge!

Comment Re:Someone tell me (Score 1) 306

The real question is, why do these hackers think the banks are responsible for this video or have any way to even take it down --from the internet, much less. Yeah, good luck with that --right, And why does everyone call this a 'YouTube video', as if Google had something to do with funding its production? Does YouTube have a DDoS problem from this group, too?

The attackers (probably) know that the banks are not responsible for the video. But they also know that the banks are a backbone of Western society, that Western society is responsible for the video, that Western society has uploaded the video, and that Western society therefore needs to take down the video. Oh, and you also need to start worshipping the Prophet Mohammed and convert to Islam. Oh, and because Islamic Sharia law states that banks are not allowed to charge interest on financial deposits, Western banks are inherently evil and must be punished for not being compliant with Sharia law. Oh, and as we are Islamic fundamentalists, we just do this shit because we can.

Comment Re:How likely are they to hear the case? (Score 5, Insightful) 146

The one thing I can see in favor of the case being heard is the argument that the current method for establishing statutory damages leads to a pattern of overly broad legislation on the part of RIAA/MPAA-inspired copyright entities, leading to an excessive drain on time and resources of the lower courts.

Comment Re:Sounds reasonable (Score 1) 338

The free speech provisions of the US constitution are grounded in the First Amendment. The amendment prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances.

So as I read it, the Free Speech provisions in the constitution do not apply unless the Service provider is a Government entity. Having said that, I am not a lawyer (US constitutional law or otherwise) and I dare say there is some asinine ruling somewhere on the books in the US that would give some veneer of legality to this.

Comment Re:Don't you love (Score 4, Interesting) 131

To be fair, all Governments lobby on behalf of their domestic corporations - think of all the times that politicians from the ruling party in a country go to another country and negotiate trade agreements or highlight the products and services of their domestic companies to decision-making politicians of the host country.
Heck, if politicians DID NOT do this, they would probably be accused of not doing their jobs when going abroad. Indeed, this is one of the more common roles of most diplomatic ambassadors.
(As a case in point, and granted it is not about politicians but it is close enough, the British Royal yacht Britannia was funded by the British taxpayer. When a previous Government said they wanted to stop paying for Britannia, quite a few people in British industry objected because the Royal family often used the yacht as a lobbying tool for British businesses abroad).
Certainly, when the lobbying goes beyond the "our companies offer wonderful services/products, and we can arrange tax breaks that are passed on as discounts" or "build your new manufacturing facility in my back yard, and get some very favorable terms" to "if you do not do it our way, then we will make life hard for you" then that, for me, is something the politicians and companies need to be called out on, but that is not lobbying, that is making threats.

Comment For me, yes. For the guys I work with, no. (Score 1) 445

Most of my job is application/system support work for securities traders in the bank I work at. 80% of the cases we deal with come to us by telephone (the vast majority of the rest are people shouting across the room or walking over to our desks), but the "phone" they call is actually an appliance that auto-forwards to a mobile phone, so no desk phone required.
The traders, however, are using specialist VoIP trading telephones from IPC or BT with lots of knobs, bells and whistles, external speaker boxes, dedicated voice broadcast/multicast speaker boxes, et cetera. Most of those guys would rather lose a leg or two than their desk telephone.

Comment Opinions are like... (Score 1) 376

Opinions are like assholes, every body has one. As art critics (in fact, all critics) are only heard when expressing their opinions, it kind of stands to reason that the reaction stinks.
Having said that, the majority of artists who today are considered the real greats, responsible for some of the finest art works in history, were either completely unappreciated during their lifetime and died penniless and destitute, or they were appreciated for things other than their artwork and derived income from sources other than their artistic endeavours.

Granted, George Lucas is never going to die penniless (but if he wants to give me all his money 5 minutes before he dies, just to prove me wrong, I am not going to complain), so he does not fall into the penniless category. Equally, he is not appreciated for anything he has done outside of the Star Wars franchise, unless you count the setting up of Industrial Light & Magic and similar business ventures, so he can hardly fall into the "artistic genius who earned money in other ways, with his artistic genius only being appreciated after his death" category, even allowing for the fact that he is not dead.

Personally, I can come up with a list of potential "Best artist of our generation" candidates that is longer than the credits for all 3 Star Wars prequels put together and which would not contain the name "George Lucas", but that is going to be my opinion, which is no more valid than Ms Paglia's effort.

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