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Comment Re:Piracy = Theft Analogy (Score 1) 432

You're being very generous on R&D, as currently they only get 20 years. And that's because R&D uses patents rather than a copyright.

That's 20 years from the filing date though, not 20 years from the date of invention/date of first spend on R&D. There are often several years of research which happen before the filing date.

Comment Re:Tax avoidance (Score 5, Interesting) 592

Well, when a fire erupts at the Facebook HQ, simply don't send the firemen when Facebook calls and tell them to contract a private firefighting company. They will have the fire put down by that company and will simply pay an invoice for the services rendered. :-)

Actually, this is exactly what used to happen before (roughly, and depending on where you live) the early to mid 19th century. The earliest firefighters in modern times were either volunteers or employed on a private contractual basis (ie they would literally turn up at the scene of a fire and try to negotiate payment before putting it out). As insurance developed in the 17th century, naturally insurers started to provide their own firefighters to reduce the losses sustained to fire. The insurers in London, for example, set up a system after the Great Fire of 1666 whereby each had their own group of firemen and they placed "fire insurance marks" on each house so that they could identify whether their unit was supposed to fight a particular fire or not. Eventually the usual pressures of commerce meant that these units usually merged into a single unit covering the whole of London across multiple insurers in the early to mid 19th century, however, still under a model of privately funded provision.

What happened next could be viewed as an example of "corporate welfare"... the insurers lost large sums in a few particularly bad fires and they decided as a result of this that they would lobby the government to provide a beefed-up firefighting service at taxpayers' expense. At the same time, there was a growing movement to "profesionalise" the remaining voluntary provision in other parts of the world which led to them becoming paid rather than voluntary. Following the model set in the insurer-led markets, these areas paid their firefighters out of the public purse.

I would suggest that it seems the right thing to do to fund fire defence by extracting the costs directly from insurers on an incident basis rather than simply relying on general taxation - i.e. if my house catches fire, my insurer would then have to pay the government back the cost involved in calling the fire brigade out (you can argue about the corner case of how to deal with people who are uninsured and whether you fund their costs from general taxation, a levy on those who are insured, or by trying to pursue them individually). One benefit is that the insurers then have even more incentive (beyond just the threat of loss) to ensure that fire prevention measures are adequate. You could also compare this to the idea that the court system should be self-funding through filing fees etc. Just because it's a legitimate use of a government monopoly, doesn't mean it has to be funded through general taxation.

Comment Re:nVidia (Score 1) 158

I just went over to the Radeon because of the multimonitor support given off of one card. I have 5 monitors attached to my current video card and I like it that way. Before then I bought nVidia because they worked so well without issues. I have had multiple issues from radeon since purchasing it, but oh well I finally got it to work.

Completely agree with this. The multimonitor support on Radeon is much, much better than nVidia and that's why I moved over as well. I wouldn't say I've had any big "issues" but ATI's driver support (at least on Linux, using the Catalyst drivers) has been a little bit disappointing - I had to stay on an old version of X.org for a while because of the amd64 Xv issue forcing me to use an older driver for example.

Comment Re:free, or free... (Score 3, Informative) 783

Pay more attention to the summary--they are "free" as in beer, not speech. They are government funded, and so should expect the government to impose reasonable criteria on the use of those taxpayer funds. Apparently the purpose was to allow broad discretion in the curricula, but now the government is deciding that teaching creationism as "science" is out of bounds for use of public funds.

No, "free schools" are a special type of state school and "free" means that they are free from a number of the diktats usually imposed upon the rest of our state-funded schools, including the requirement to adhere to the national (government-mandated) curriculum. They are a new thing in the past year or two. The idea was to get rid of some of the bureaucracy involved in founding a school so that groups of parents and other people could more easily open their own new schools to create more competition in the state-funded sector which in turn would drive up standards across the board.

Comment Re:He also used some words... (Score 1) 534

Probably also worth pointing out that, unlike the US etc., the UK has no legal recognition of the right to free speech. Stupid acts like this, especially coming so soon after the recent case of offensive postings to Facebook etc. in the case of the missing April Jones, are not going to help convince politicians that maybe this is something that needs changing.

That's not completely true. The UK does have a legal recognition of the right to free speech, both uncodified (it is accepted as part of the common law) and as codified through the Human Rights Act (amongst other statutes). It's just that the exceptions to this right are rather broader here than in many other countries (notably the US).

I disagree that this is going to make politicians less sensitive to requests to narrow those exceptions. It's all about how it's framed. When everyone is being asked to tighten their belts either through higher taxes or lower service provision from the public sector (or both), it seems pretty difficult to justify the police (and, if it goes that far, the crown prosecutors and the courts) spending their time on things as trivial as this. It really doesn't help their case when they are complaining about cuts to their resources.

I don't think that means that this law will be removed from the statute books (unfortunately). But I wouldn't be surprised if police forces and individual officers are told (perhaps quietly, perhaps not) to use a bit more common sense about these types of cases when exercising their discretion.

Comment Re:Better have a a warrent or what? (Score 3, Insightful) 451

Wikipedia has a list of people killed by police in the UK. If you discount the ones that happened in Northern Ireland during The Troubles, it has a grand total of 15 people killed by police since 1920.

I do not feel scared by that number.

I'm not sure which numbers you were looking at, but I think they are rather a lot higher than that, even if not officially acknowledged as such. Possibly you have confused "being shot by the police" with "being killed by the police" (although even then the number is far, far higher than that).

Between 2000 and 2011 there were nearly 6,000 deaths in police custody in the UK. Now, some (perhaps even many or most) of those will be unavoidable - perhaps people who would have died anyway even if not in police custody. Then, some are down to negligence (although I'd argue that in many case that is just as bad as malfeasance - if I was at home and vulnerable to some medical condition e.g. diabetes then it's much more likely someone would be around who would watch and look after me properly). But I find it very difficult to believe that given such a large number of cases there is no significant element of either bad intent or intentinoal recklessness, because it really is a shockingly high number - for context, it is not terribly far off the total number of murders recorded in the UK in the same period.

Looking just at shootings - there seem to be on average about 6 or 7 a year in recent years - e.g. here is a list of some of them. There are in fact multiple recent cases where the police have literally shot naked and unarmed people (and faced only relatively minor consequences as a result) and several more where they have shot unarmed people. Even in this case, which would appear to be about as clear-cut a case as they come, the officers were acquitted and retained their jobs in the police, albeit not on firearm duties.

Finally, I'd like to say that the fact that police can apparently get away with murder should worry you, for two reasons. Firstly - not because you might be murdered by the police yourself (that is still very unlikely), but because it means they might be likely to get away with far lesser crimes (like assaulting you, planting drugs on you, or making up a traffic offence because they decide they don't like the look of you) much more easily. Secondly - because it is indicative of a force who don't see their primary loyalty as being to the victims of crime (and to thus solving crime) but rather to looking after their own. If you were a victim of crime, would you want a force where the officers thought people who didn't pull their weight to solve it effectively should be protected from public scrutiny?

If anything, we should be holding police officers, especially firearms officers, to a higher standard than we do the general public because we grant them additional powers and privileges and entrust them to use those responsibly while paying them out of the public purse.

Comment Re:It goes both ways. (Score 1) 207

Turbolifts are only very superficially like elevators.

They are more similar, I believe, to escalators in that they are always ready to board. When a person gets on a turbo lift and the door closes behind them, another person can board the turbo lift immediately afterward, and they can move in the same direction, or another one. They do not need to wait for the lift that the previous person took to arrive.

Indeed. I think Personal Rapid Transit is much closer to the concept of how they are supposed to work (only on a slightly larger scale than a ship).

Comment Re:Here we go... (Score 4, Informative) 198

It's also worth pointing out HTTPS Finder which will work for the random sites you visit that aren't in HTTPS Everywhere's default list. And of course you might want to use some other privacy-protecting addons to stop info leaking out to ad-trackers over plain old HTTP and/or alert you to a potential compromise of your HTTPS certificate chain of authority.

Comment Re:Use purpose designed backup media. (Score 2) 405

Whether tape or disk is appropriate really depends what you are intending to use the backup for and how important your data is. You might even choose to use a mixture of the two.

If it's your only backup, I would suggest that it's not wise to leave it permanently online in the way you suggest; that leaves you open to any number of potential issues which your backup is supposed to protect you from (OS bug, misconfiguration, lightning strike, power failure, overheating, ...). Tape libraries have the same issue although at least there you are exposed to a different set of software bugs and the other tapes in the library might be OK if they are not physically in use when the worst happens.

For the inadvertent file deletion, you can cover this with better tools using true online storage - effectively some form of regular snapshotting (ZFS snapshots, rdiff-backup, Windows VSS, etc) to keep a (shortish) recent history. This should cover a good proportion of restore requests depending on how much history you can keep. For the rest, you're right that if you need to restore files very regularly then you might need a second drive and/or robot. Whether you need to do that or not will just depend on your use case.

Even if you do go with disk, make sure you use something which can properly keep multiple versions of files - just rsync'ing a big directory onto another disk is a recipe for disaster. My personal favourites are rdiff-backup and DAR (which can handle multiple volumes as others have pointed out) but there are others out there too, eg bacula.

Comment Re:Use purpose designed backup media. (Score 1) 405

Actually, for a data set this large it will probably work out only very slightly more expensive - and the benefit to be gained is worth it IMHO (in speed if nothing else - USB disks are *slow* and eat a lot of CPU). I live in the UK so I'll work in GBP. I think US prices are likely to be cheaper but the relative sizes will be similar.

I'd figure around ~£1100 for drive and SAS interface plus £500-700 for 24TB worth of media. Throw in an extra 2TB drive to spool to before you write to tape as well for say £150 (if you are buying SAS) and you get to less around £81/TB (which works out roughly the same as current external hard drive costs). If your data is precious though you'll want double the amount of media so you can store offsite (or at least have a spare backup). Then the lower marginal cost of tape vs disk will become apparent.

Yes, tape can be harder to configure correctly and swapping tapes over etc will be a pain for a set this large. But that's equally true for disk; and we all know that it's not a backup until you've checked that you can restore from it. User error in configuration of the backup scripts is way more likely to cause an issue than any kind of hardware error and for that reason alone, you are stupid in my opinion if you don't test your backups. If you test them, then you will spot any SCSI misconfiguration etc immediately.

I agree that for moving data around, disk (or network) is much much easier. But that wasn't the submitter asked about.

Comment Re:Expect networks to run to Congress (Score 4, Informative) 373

The licence is compulsary for any device capable of receiving broadcast media. That includes Internet, TV and radio.

No it is not. You do not need a TV license to access the internet or to listen to the radio. You technically need one to watch or record live streamed content which is also being simultaneously broadcast on TV, but content which is not on TV or which is not live streamed does not need one and this does not amount to needing a TV licence just because you have internet access which could theoretically be used for this. There is also an effective presumption that if you own a TV then you will use it to receive television but if you do not use it for that then you don't need a licence either.

Comment Re:Virgin Media are ripoff merchants (Score 1) 250

I agree that Virgin Media are expensive. I was rather reluctant when I last moved house to use them but I couldn't get Sky TV so my only (realistic) option for premium TV was Virgin Media. They work out significantly more expensive than Sky+BT+O2 did in my old place by something like £25/month for a similar package. To be honest though, that's the only thing I really have a serious complaint with them over.

Reliability is OK - not great but reasonable for a consumer-level contract (my experience is on the order of around 4 1+day outages per year) - overall this is below other "good" ISPs I've experienced but they refund you pro rata so I'm kind of OK with using PAYG 3G service if/when that happens as a backup. I think I've been lucky as well as I just don't seem to have hit their throttling caps yet - which was a big surprise to me as I do occasionally do some mammoth downloads - perhaps I have split these over different measurement periods or something similar by happy coincidence.

So, the switching cost in terms of hassle is just not worth it for the relatively small financial gains I'd get on internet service. I just wish they didn't price their service as if they were a monopoly, particularly on TV.

Comment Re:OS/2 Lesson: Legal & Copyright hassles (Score 1) 234

No need for anything as unusual as piercing the corporate veil (where judgment is found against the subsidiary and then IBM made liable for its subsidiary's debt in its capacity as a shareholder). IBM could simply be sued for inducing a breach of contract by its subsidiary (or even a third-party Company).

I think the more interesting question is - what damages could realistically be claimed to be suffered as a result? If there are no actual damages, then there is likely to be nothing to sue for, even if it is technically a breach of contract.

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