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Comment Re:Solution: No patents on connectors! (Score 4, Insightful) 471

Ditto. That is the PR of the patent industry, which lives and breathes by placing impediments to the progress of science and the useful arts, but there isn't the slightest evidence that the social benefits out weigh the social costs, to say nothing of the of the rent seeking, soul sucking patent attorneys who profit from this perverse deprivation of moral and intellectual rights.

There is no shortage of literature in defense of that position. The patent system, as presently constituted, is a first class train wreck. Virtually every informed observer who is not on the payroll of the patent bar, and who lacks a vested interest in some trivial non-invention, understands that fact.

Comment Re:With a huge exception (Score 1) 268

The OS has nothing to do with it. Firewire ports are DMA, as are Thunderbolt ports if I remember correctly, which means access to the port means direct access to the RAM. That means you can not only read the data, but you can also potentially manipulate it (killing processes, injecting code into already running processes, etc.).

Serious computers, running serious operating systems, use an IOMMU to restrict the access of externally accessible DMA devices to main memory, in much the same way a regular MMU is used to restrict access by user processes, by making other memory basically invisible.

Comment Re:This is Market failure in action... (Score 1) 353

AT&T acquired a near monopoly long before the government briefly nationalized it during World War I. It was the governments concern that AT&T be required to interconnect with other carriers, and they did just that.

In addition, if you want something to blame for the establishment of the AT&T monopoly I suggest you squarely attribute it to U.S. patent law, which is highly susceptible to the creation of such monopolies, cartels, and conglomerates. There is nothing "free market" about a patent. The patent is one of the greatest offenses against free market principles ever devised.

Comment Re:Why bother denying the obvious? (Score 1) 158

Long distance and national phone calls are charged at a higher rate as it is the simplest way of getting businesses and wealthy people to subsidize the maintenance of the local telephone network.

That is why they invented progressive income taxes. No need to stunt commerce and communication too.

Comment Re:there's more than that (Score 1) 663

SQL Server? That is great, if you are a Microsoft only shop, and your needs don't get too out of the ordinary. Large OLTP databases tend to run on Oracle or DB2, on an operating system actually designed for the purpose. Neither is cheap of course, by any means, but together they dwarf SQL Server in market share (measured in dollars, not installations).

Comment Re:19th Century (Score 1) 301

A bunch of rich guys injected liquidity into the system because there was no central bank to do so.

Quite true. What you do not mention, however, is that non-fractional-reserve currencies do not have liquidity crises. If fractional reserve banking (meaning legalized embezzlement of deposits) was prohibited, as it had been in common law for most of the past two millennia, the Panic of 1907 would have been over before it started.

An economy can handle massive swings in equity indices without serious problems. But as soon as people start demanding the return of a deposit all hell breaks loose. In the current system a demand deposit isn't a deposit at all, it is a loan to the bank that a depositor (lender actually) can call at any time.

No economy deals well with callable loans on a large scale, and yet our current banking system is structured on them. We just call them demand deposits instead, even though they have nothing legally in common with deposits except the name.

If too many customers start calling their loans to the bank, the whole house of cards starts falling apart. A house of cards that can grow so big that no combination of honest monied interests can bail them out. Hence the advent of fiat currency, where the central bank can make money out of thin air (roughly speaking) so that it can keep those highly leveraged hedge funds we call banks afloat.

Comment Re:Einen moment, bitte. (Score 1) 301

like gold - you severely limit the flexibility of the currency to cope with a crisis

There is nothing wrong with gold. The problem is that legalized embezzlement of deposits (aka fractional reserve banking) is incompatible with hard currency. With FRB, just like any other embezzlement scheme, anytime anything goes seriously wrong, either depositors are out their money or their holdings are devalued.

It is economically impossible for holders of a debt backed currency to be made whole in real terms. All FRB institutions are ticking time bombs that can only be kept alive by debasing the currency - meaning negative real interest rates on all "deposits".

Comment 6,452 Percent Markup (Score 1) 120

In a report I wrote last year, I estimated the markup for Internet services was 6,452 per cent

It is actually better than that, much better. Somewhere along the line, a customer sent that data to an Internet Service Provider for free. By a simple exercise of elementary arithmetic, we can see that the markup charged on data transmitted and received is actually infinite. (Shhh! don't let anyone know).

Comment Re:And What Horrible Things Are You Up To? (Score 1) 288

But what purpose does opening up their communication hold?

The issue at hand is not whether scientists should be required to publish their emails on the Internet, but whether they should have legal privilege against subpoenas. A better question is what is it about science that requires granting legal privileges that approximately no one else has? Courts exist to decide legitimate cases and controversies. How are they supposed to do that if the they cannot gain access to the relevant information? Flip a coin?

Comment Re:Opensource and [MS-PL]? (Score 1) 140

No, it doesn't effectively change the license on the existing code

I didn't say it changed the license on anything. I said it has the effect (the practical effect) of subjecting the whole file to the more restrictive license. The reason why this is the case is (as you note) it can quickly become impossible to determine which lines are subject to which license.

Of course it doesn't subject the original code to the more restrictive license, you just don't know what is the original code. If you want to create something based on the original code with modifications under a different license, you should start with a clean copy. The further encumbered version is almost useless for that.

I agree, however, that there is no point in encumbering a BSD licensed source file with another license if all you are going to do is make minor changes. If you are going to make major changes, on the other hand, you may have a very good reason to do just that.

Comment Re:Opensource and [MS-PL]? (Score 1) 140

I agree, you certainly cannot remove the copyright notice, nor can you remove the license. However, you can indicate that a given file contains "portions" copyright so and so that are subject to a BSD license, and portions copyright someone else that are subject to a more restrictive license.

That has the effect of subjecting the whole file (assuming substantial modifications have been made) to the restrictions contained in both licenses, because the copyrights of both the original copyright holder and later contributors are applicable. In the case of code that was originally BSD licensed that has substantial contributions released under a more restrictive license, the file is (for most practical purposes) governed by the the conditions of the the more restrictive license, because the requirements of the BSD licensed portions are trivial to satisfy.

No care need be taken to avoid mixing the code subject to the different licenses within the file either, as long as the copyright notice and conditions that apply to portions derived from the original distribution are included. The whole point of a derived work is that the copyrights (and hence the conditions) of both contributors apply. If a function or code fragment subject to the terms of both licenses is not a legal nullity, no problem.

Comment Re:Opensource and [MS-PL]? (Score 3, Insightful) 140

GPL-compatible does not mean that you can simply copy and paste code willy-nilly into a GPL project.

Most BSD style licenses are unencumbered enough that you can relicense direct derivatives (not just composite works) under practically any terms you want. Commercial companies do this all the time, and it is in fact what makes BSD style licensing for open source software projects so controversial - anyone can create a proprietary fork at will, with components that quickly lose their BSD character as modifications are added.

GPL licensed derivatives of BSD licensed components can be created in the same manner. It is the copyright of the authors of the modifications that makes the relicensing have teeth, it is the lack of a prohibition on additional license terms in BSD style licenses that makes it possible.

The MS-PL, on the other hand, specifically prohibits this practice, much like the Mozilla Public License (MPL). Both are moderate copyleft licenses, designed to make sure that derivatives of covered source files are always available under the terms of the original license.

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