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Comment Innocent until proven guilty? (Score 1) 349

I don't know about German law, but in the US, you're innocent until proven guilty. They *DO* have proof that their music is all CC licensed, but GEMA won't accept the proof. Perhaps this can be brought into the courts and ruled to be an unenforceable law (since it presumes guilt instead of innocence)? Or is that not a basic concept in German law?

Comment Overpopulation is a local, not world, problem (Score 1) 473

Correct, there is no "world" overpopulation issue. For more info, see the Wikipedia page on world population growth. A few areas of the world have a massive growth rate (mainly central Africa, plus a few countries in southwest Asia), and many of those are almost certainly overpopulated (since they cannot really support themselves).

But most of the world is around the replacement rate or lower. In many areas, the current population will go extinct if current rates continue. Even in the U.S., the total fertility rate in the United States estimated for 2009 is 2.01 children per woman, which is below the replacement fertility rate of approximately 2.1 (it's more than 2 due to premature death, etc.). In other words, the current US local replacement rate isn't enough to sustain the current US population. Immigration keeps the US population numbers going up; it's not due to internal replacement. The rates for many other industrialized nations are even lower. So for most countries, there is no explosive growth; instead, they are shrinking. Even if you think world overpopulation is an issue, the birth rate is slowing overall.

Most announcements about the "world population" figures don't make it clear that population growth isn't the same everywhere, and that rapid growth is actually really localized. It'd be just as accurate to say "the US local population is declining" since it is.

Comment Recompile *should* be much, much faster (Score 3, Informative) 357

Unless the build system is screwed up, recompiling after a change should be relatively fast. Usually source code is stored as lots of smaller files, and each file is compiled separately to produce a separate object file (e.g., .o). Then next time a rebuild is requested, the system should notice what changed, and only rebuild the needed parts. Some parts take the same time each time (e.g., a final link), but it shouldn't take anywhere near the same amount of time. There are lots of build tools, including make, cmake, and so on. If you use the venerable "make" tool, you might want to read Miller's "Recursive Make Considered Harmful": Cue the lovers and haters of "make", here :-).

Comment Funding needs are far smaller (Score 1) 116

The problem here is that someone needs to organize these things.

True, but not relevant. The necessary organization and infrastructure can be done quite cheaply, if organizations are willing to move from the past to the present.

Someone has to pay for the bandwidth, buy and run the servers, spend effort soliciting reviewers, run the reviewing software, respond to questions, request ISBNs, submit the work to indexing sites, etc etc etc..

I think you're grossly overestimating the costs if they switch to an exclusively digital realm, which is where they need to go. Bandwidth and running basic servers (which is all that's needed) are commodities. WebHostGiant will provide bandwidth and basic servers for $2.79/month with no bandwidth maximum. A serious journal will want more than that, yes, and there are other requirements too. For example, you'll need DNS registration (which companies like GoDaddy or 1and1 will do for cheap). But really, these are highly-competed commodities, so we're talking about petty cash budgets in most companies. You could probably set up the technical infrastructure for less than $100/year, plus 20 hours of volunteer time for the initial setup. Just get 5 people to contribute $20/year and you're done. The exact number isn't important; what's important is that it is REALLY REALLY small compared to paper-based publication.

Yes, you need some code to manage reviews, but not much. Existing programs can do the job; you really don't need more than a Wiki or mailing list. You can get some efficiencies using specialized programs, but their development could be amortized across lots of different journals (it's perfect for creating as open source software; there are probably several such programs already). It's clearly possible; Wikipedia's MediaWiki, for examples, wasn't developed by a for-profit organization, and it handles scales far beyond what journals require. You need an ISSN, not an ISBN, for a magazine, and that's a one-time expense.

The "soliciting reviewers" and so on can be done by volunteers, as is already often done.

The basic problem is that paper publishers haven't noticed that the digital economy is VASTLY cheaper (or they're scared BECAUSE they realize this).

Open access journals address this by having a publication fee, or by advertising, or by seeking volunteers and asking for charity. Paying for publication gets blurry with vanity press, and advertising ends up sucking up to the advertisers.

So stop pushing the paper. Push the bits, and let people print what they want. For academic works, what people (should) want is the information, not the pretty binding.

Volunteering and charity seem wonderful, but have to compete with lots of other worthy causes.

Absolutely true. But if it's easy, it's not too bad. Also, volunteering for journals is considered something valuable in many academic circles, so it's not just charity in many cases. The paywalled journals depend on volunteerism already, so it's not a change in that respect. And when people don't feel exploited, they're more likely to volunteer.

In CS, most of the major publishers allow you to post a copy of your paper on your personal website (as long as you also link to the official version). Finding papers outside of the paywalls is only difficult when the authors are in industry (but those aren't the publicly funded papers you're talking about anyway).

Fair enough. But typically CS researchers are writing papers because they want to get information out to the widest possible audience that would be interested. Paywalls just get in the way, for reasons that are now obsolete.

Comment This *is* big (Score 4, Insightful) 116

This is big. There are a lot of parasitic journals today, that is, journals that take work the public paid for, and lock it behind paywalls. Parasitic journals typically use big-name free labor from to do the peer reviews. If the world removes from the parasites many good peer reviewers, as well as many good papers (through policies like the NIH Public Access policy), then they will have to change or fold. I don't have a problem with organizations paying for work to be done, and then charging for use of the result. For example, most fiction authors get at least some money for their labor (not a lot, but at least some). In contrast, parasitic journals typically take publicly-funded stuff away from the public; time to change. By the way, there are a number of journals and publications that have always done this, like ACSAC. If authors would simply ONLY submit their works to open access journals and publications, the parasites would disappear.

Comment Copyright issues (Score 3, Informative) 102

We're going to see more of this sort of thing. Almost everyone assumes that all software is copyrighted, or that only the copyright holder can release software as free/libre/open source software (FLOSS). Neither are true!! This matters when the US government gets involved, because its "normal" rules are really different from most organization's.

For example, if a government employee develops software as part of his official duties, then in practically all cases that software is NOT subject to copyright in the US (per US law 17 USC 105). It's not just that the author doesn't have copyright; there IS no copyright in the US. Also, when a contractor writes software, the government often receives all the release rights as if it was the copyright holder yet it is not the copyright holder (these are called "unlimited rights"). In this case, the government can release the software as FLOSS, on its own initiative, even though it is NOT the copyright holder. For more details, see: Publicly Releasing Open Source Software Developed for the U.S. Government.

The US government spends billions of dollars each year developing software. It's my hope that, over time, it will release more of the software it develops to the people who paid for it.

Comment Open Document Format works fine (Score 1) 221

I wrote PhD thesis using Open Document Format (ODF) and it worked out very well. I used, but I expect that LibreOffice would work at least as well. You can translate to many other formats (e.g., with "Save As" or external tools).

As with any big writing effort, one key is to separate formatting from content. You should FIRST set up a template with that does all the formatting, including all the paragraph types you'll need and the right format for them. Then write your document, selecting the paragraph types for each paragraph as appropriate. Do NOT embed formatting commands in the document itself - paragraphs should NOT have font settings, etc., but instead these should be controlled by the paragraph's paragraph type. In my case, I created an OpenDocument template for George Mason University (GMU), and gave it to GMU so others could share it. If you create a template, please share it with others.

Comment Got an Apple ][+ and paper tape (Score 1) 422

I have paper tape for various programs I wrote for a DEC PDP-8. I've occasionally shown the paper tape, just to show how much better things have gotten since then.

I also have an Apple ][+ and an Apple //e. The Apple ][+ is actually an original Apple ][, but with a new motherboard (due to a blown capacitor that fried the board). I sometimes bring out the Apples and run the games I wrote for them. A number of the disks are still readable, believe it or not.

As far as I'm concerned, what matters for games is if they are FUN. 100 FPS doesn't matter if it's boring. There are games that are text-only, or run on 40x40 pixel blocks, that are lots more fun, and that makes them better games.

Comment Crafty isn't open source software (Fruit 2.1 is) (Score 1) 315

Crafty is not open source software, though its license has similarities to an open source software license. Crafty is for "personal use only", which means that it fails the Open Source Definition criteria "No Discrimination Against Fields of Endeavor".

Crafty's main.c file says: "All rights reserved. No part of this program may be reproduced in any form or by any means, for other than your personal use, without the express written permission of the authors. This program may not be used in whole, nor in part, to enter any computer chess competition without written permission from the authors. Such permission will include the requirement that the program be entered under the name "Crafty" so that the program's ancestry will be known."

Fruit up to 2.1 is open source software (GPL)

Comment More results taken from the people who paid for it (Score 1) 527

Sigh. Yet another project that took the money from the people, and took away the results from the people. That's rediculous. If "we the people" paid for research, then "we the people" should get the result. It should be a rule that all government-funded research software must be released as open source software (unless it's classified or for some other reason can't be released to the public in any form)... at least by default. If someone wants to develop proprietary software, then they should be investing their own money, not taking mine. Why am I not getting what I paid for?

Comment Rediculous - Spamhaus should outright win. (Score 1) 143

Spamhaus didn't respond at all originally, but shouldn't an appeals court be able to reverse a decision and say, "Spamhaus, you're right"? This is a freedom of speech issue. Anyone (including Spamhaus) should be able to say "X is a spammer" if X is, indeed, a spammer. And although anyone has a right to speak, others have a right to choose not to listen; if people don't want to listen to anyone Spamhaus doesn't like, it's their decision.

Comment Gestures are NOT supposed to be patentable! (Score 2) 87

NONE of these should have been granted a U.S. patent. This is ridiculous!

U.S. law (Section 101 of Title 35 U.S.C.) defines what is patentable subject matter: "Whoever invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof, may obtain a patent therefor, subject to the conditions and requirements of this title." Gestures are not processes, machines, manufactures, or compositions of matter, so they are NEVER supposed to be patented.

Gestures are basically signals, and signals are specifically NOT patentable. The Federal Circuit has ruled that signals are not statutory subject matter, because articles of manufacture (the only plausible category) do not include intangible, incorporeal, transitory entities (in In re Nuitjen, 500 F.3d 1346 (Fed. Cir. 2007)).

This is another example of unwarranted interference by the government in the free market. Is there really a need to grant monopolies to companies for specific gestures? No. It's not justified by any law. What's more, it harms society. Just imagine if each car company had to have a radically different interface due to patents - it would harm safety! This just worsens the digital divide, with no legal or societal justification.

We need the courts to require a re-review of every patent, at no cost to defendants, before any case is tried, and for the courts to assume that the patent office is a registration of claim, not anything meaningful. There are too many bad patents to believe otherwise.

(Disclaimer: I'm not a lawyer, and speak only for myself. I'm sure not impressed by the work of some lawyers, though.)

Comment Both Fedora and Ubuntu will reap benefits (Score 2) 102

Both Fedora and Ubuntu will reap benefits, because they will end up packaging many of the results. But even more importantly, people around the world will reap the benefits. Not only immediately (from these projects), but even more importantly, but also from all the amazing work these developers will do in the years ahead because they they learned how to collaboratively develop software. Good job.

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