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Comment Redistributors only or forks too? (Score 4, Interesting) 233

What happens to developers? Just in case, we fork out Novell's moonlight tree because they got bought by someone (*cough* mysql, *cough*), will the conventant apply to us? Or does it only apply to code written by Novell & redistributed by others? Does this indirectly kill the freedom to modify & redistribute? like that firefox logo thing?

Alright, I admit it, I do have an axe to grind against silverlight (and flash too, I guess). But this covenant just goes on to establish precedent in terms of patent coverage ... (yes, note my domain, I've been through this before).

Comment WiFi (Score 3, Insightful) 260

Speaking as someone not living in the US ... and hence out of the AT&T whispernet, the fact that this can work over WiFi is a huge plus.

I'd totally pay 250 US for it, just for kicks. Especially if they'd publish something like a bird watcher's guide, which where I really miss having a ton of searchable content, but without the bulk to carry around.

Comment it's a touch-screen of the music man (Score 4, Interesting) 405

It's not really becoming popular because it is better to hear music off one. The vinyl turntable is a performance instrument all of its own.

About a year back I ran into someone who had a vinyl turntable hooked into Ubuntu studio. He'd essentially use the turntable hooked into the MIDI port(?) which lets him control any soundtrack with a touch of his finger.

The guy was explaining how the user interface of a turntable supersedes anything else out there for what he's doing. That in some sense, it's the touch screen of the music man.

Comment 26/11 is India's 9/11 ... they picked the day (Score 4, Insightful) 96

The Research & Analysis wing in India has always had significant electronic intelligence hardware and has always been looking for more funding & more engineers to work for them. I know in some sense that they are indeed working their things to let me live my life in some sort of passive ignorance. The thing that pisses me off about this is the day and time they decided to announce this.

I haven't touched yesterday's copy of my paper (the hindu), because it is very likely that the mass hysteria about the last year's terror attacks in Mumbai will overcome any real news that they have to say. I feel sad for the victims of the attack, but in the fight between the government and the terrorists (well, militants for the 90s people), the rights that really being eaten away are mine.

So, pushing this legislature yesterday was an act of emotional blackmail on an entire country. To do this while they're still feeling vulnerable and to ensure that anyone opposing it will get vilified in the press.

Comment Free Market Incentives ... (Score 1) 590

Why would a teacher be forced to give up his/her lesson plans for free? That would be communism in blatant terms. Because no matter how good or bad the lesson plan is, the teacher gets the same reward - nothing.

On the other hand, having to pay for it produces an economy of quality. The people who develop the better (or well, better known) lesson plan will be given an incentive to keep doing so. The system works as long as there is very little policing of these norms and that society as a whole profits from this "sale" of intellectual property (finally, a place where I can use that for real).

This might seems strange coming from a student brought of socialist kerala, opposer of DRM and sw patents. But here's where I draw the line, I do not object to the sale of lesson plans. I do object to policing of the system to prevent fair use of it (which is a whole tarkin effect in itself).

Plus it is definitely a constructive sale, if you can build something up in your work and sell it so that *another student* gets a better education, then it counts as a win-win situation as far as the end user (i.e student) is concerned.

So good for the teachers who write them and good for the teachers who use 'em. This is just meta-textbook 2.0 in action :)

Comment Stereotypes are a real timesaver (Score 1) 147

I can't be bothered to read the entire article before saying this.

I don't claim to not stereotype at all - it's an outgroup homogenity bias that all of us have built into us. But I've learnt not to classify people into categories, rather assign qualities to each person I meet instead. I find that a much more natural order of thought in my head, but almost useless to compare notes with.

At least this way my vocabulary-of-people is more like words instead of just individual alphabets (yeah, you sound like an ... alpha-male).

Comment Story of binary compatibility is short and tragic (Score 5, Insightful) 549

In the entire forked-up mess of the unix tree, there was only one thing that anybody & everybody cared about - source compatibilty. C99, POSIX, SuS v3, so many ways you could ensure that your code would compile everywhere, with whatever compiler was popular that week. For a good part of 4 years, I worked on, which had a support/ directory full of ifdefs and a configure script full of AC_DEFINEs. It worked nearly everywhere too.

Binary compatibility never took off because there is so little stuff that can be shared between binary platforms. Sure, the same file could run on multiple archs, but in reality that is no different from a zip file with six binaries in them. Indeed, it needed someone to build 'em all in one place to actually end up with one of these. Which is actually more effort than actually letting each distro arch-maintainer do a build whenever they please. OS X build tools ship with the right cross-compilers in XCode and they have more of a monoculture in library versions, looking backwards.

Attempting this in a world where even an x86 binary wouldn't work on all x86-linux-pc boxes (static linking, yeah...yeah), is somehow a solution with no real problem attached. Unless you can make the default build-package workflow do this automatically, this simple step means a hell of a lot of work for the guy doing the build.

And that's just the problems with getting a universal binary. Further problems await as you try to run the created binaries ... I like the idea and the fact that the guy is talking with his patches. But colour me uninterested in this particular problem he's trying to solve. If he manages to convince me that it's a real advantage over 4 binaries that I pick & choose to download, hell ... I'll change my opinion so quickly, it'll leave you spinning.

Comment standard author/exploiter response? (Score 5, Insightful) 281

I'm not a real security guy, but my experiences with security bug reporting shows that nearly all such subtle bugs are pooh-poohed by the original authors till the exploit writer resorts to petulant scaremongering. I'm not sure which one is to blame for either one's behaviour.

All of these attacks IIRC require you to be able to mmap() page zero. Which is why mmap_min_addr is almost never set low enough in a decently protected OS. But the fact is that the exploit is a valid bug for a system which hasn't got that set to 4k. And there is a valid root exploit using pulseaudio (*ouch*) as a vector.

Linus might have been right in saying setuid is a 'vulnerability', but to call it a design flaw is wrong. Setuid is not a design flaw, it is a trade-off - needed for something as simple as 'ping' to function (yeah, ping's got setuid, check it).

Being able to exploit a setuid binary after mmap'ing page zero with executable shell code, via a phpbb vulnerability which is exposed because of lack of php filtering is like saying ... "look, having arranged these six dominoes, I only need to push *one* over".

I'm not denying either of them aren't right in their own way - but invariably original author vs security researcher sets up a very immature exchange of insults (and the ego of both types don't help either).

Comment Good for prototypes, good for tech (Score 4, Insightful) 166

I'd love to prototype on something like this. But I doubt if the actual output off an inkjet would work beyond the first time I sneeze over it.

Honestly, in some sense I got into software rather than electronics because it was so hard to experiment with electronics freely. This could lower that barrier for hobbyists & more importantly, kids. It needn't last through the weekend, but if it works and you can see it work, it's enough.

Comment Baggies, yes ... but cheerios? (Score 3, Insightful) 783

Sure, people selling little baggies of things will prosper and grow. But it ain't going to be cheerios.

Honestly, I'm an Indian IT guy who looks like this and is a straight edge vegetarian. But despite all that, twice in Portland, people have stopped me and asked me for some weed.

Now, there's a market which expands during a recession.

Submission + - The Internet Freedom Act of 2009 (

Gopal.V writes: Jon Stewart took up the cause of Net Neutrality in last night's daily show episode. Even though daily show was a little biased, the topic under discussion was John McCain's Internet Freedom Act of 2009 which is essentially a death knell for net neutrality. US being pretty much the central routing hub of the entire internet, this will certainly affect everyone everywhere. Please note that the video is not advised for anyone who likes Unicorns.

Comment Read the TFA, MS suggested this! (Score 5, Informative) 448

From the TFA, it is clear that Microsoft approves of this particular move. I quote

It's recently surfaced that it has a serious security vulnerability, and Microsoft is recommending that all users disable the add-on.

I mean, this damage control. But I think Firefox is doing the mature thing and doing it the right way. Because not everbody wants to read the MS KnowledgeBase article and implement it themselves. At least, not my mom.

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