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Comment Re: GNU/Linux is made in the USA (Score 1) 332

Yeah, and that trick works only as long as you're limited to one compiler. Once you have two, you can compile your compilers with other compilers (both of them, plus compilers you've compiled yourself with various compilers). They don't have to be trustworthy, as long as they don't have the exact same subterfuges. Use different targets, also, if you've got an ARM box you can use or a PPC.

Comment Re:Bogus argument (Score 1) 311

Thompson's device only works if there's only one compiler available. Given two independent ones, it's fairly easy to tell if either is Thompsoned. You don't actually have to trust either of them, only that they don't share that code.

Take compilers A and B. Compile B with A and also with B. You'll get different binaries, but if the compilation actually works they'll do the same thing. Now, take both those binaries, and compile A. The results should be almost identical.

Comment Re:Ken Thompson (Score 1) 336

The uppercase-only restriction wasn't because of the cards but rather because of the keypunch machine. The 370s I worked with could accept lowercase letters on cards, it was just hard to make them. (The Control Data computers I programmed with card decks, on the other hand, had 6-bit characters and therefore no lowercase - you used the 6/12-bit character set for them.)

Comment Re:Turning of the tables (Score 1) 172

Thanks for the excellent clarification, but it seems to me there's still a step missing. For court orders and subpoenas, the FBI would presumably need to have probable cause, and therefore the evidence for the probable cause would presumably have to be available to the defense, to avoid being the fruit of the poisoned tree. It seems to me that the FBI would have to conduct their own investigation to establish probable cause for court action, and then they would of course ask for warrants and subpoenas based on the NSA tip.

At that point, the FBI would appear to be on sound ground. Presumably the FBI can investigate individuals as it wishes, as long as it doesn't break the law or do something requiring judicial action. I would think they often investigate based on more or less unreliable tips, and the NSA would have more credibility than somebody in the drug trade.

Comment Re:All of them. (Score 1) 226

While there are plenty of worthless managers out there, they are far more rare than useless software developers.

First, although it's hard to measure how useful a developer is, it's even harder to measure how useful the manager is. A manager who plays the politics game well will be perceived as good, and will be able to deflect blame downward. That's bad management, but may be indistinguishable from good management with bad subordinates.

Second, how good a developer is depends heavily on management. There's lots of things managers can do to influence productivity, both positively and negatively. A good manager will have developers that perform better than a bad manager (who can make useless developers out of competent ones).

Third, a good manager will tend to retain good developers, while a bad one will tend to bleed them and wind up with people who have difficulty holding down a job in the real world. Remember that blame deflection above? A good developer, with pride in his or her work, will resent that, and won't stand for it long.

For what my observations are worth, I generally see useless developers working in dysfunctional departments, not in places that manage them well. If I saw a group of worthless developers, I'd conclude that the management was almost certainly bad.

Comment Re:Why it might not be taxed .... (Score 1) 239

You certainly can deduct business expenses in excess of your revenue. I've done it. The thing is, it has to be an actual business intended to make money. You can deduct hobby expenses (for example) only up to hobby revenue, and that applies to most other revenue.

When I was deducting business expenses, I was told that the IRS has a three-of-five rule. If your business is profitable three years in five, then they assume you're a legit business unless they find out otherwise (and they're unlikely to). If it isn't profitable three years out of five, the IRS is going to assume that it's probably a fake business intended as a tax dodge, and you'd better be prepared to show them that you're operating a true business.

You really can't buy anything real-world useful with WoW gold, so the IRS will only tax you on what you sell it for, and you can deduct your subscription cost up to your revenue (if you're running a real business, even if illicit, the IRS is a touch more generous). Suppose I have extra WoW gold and want to buy a computer with it. I'll first convert it to real money (and that's taxed) and then buy the computer.

Bitcoins, on the other hand, are a sort of currency in themselves. You can buy things directly with bitcoins (as bitcoin proponents point out whenever there's a /. article on bitcoins), and therefore they're taxable just like money. If I mine bitcoins and use them to buy a computer, I now have a computer, just as if I'd farmed cash (which I do about 40 hours a week, really). You can of course deduct your expenses, but you're going to owe taxes.

Note: I am neither a lawyer nor an accountant. This is neither legal nor illegal advice. Consult an actual reliable source before relying on anything I say. This posting is not for use in operating nuclear power plants, etc.

Comment Re:so what is porn? (Score 1) 310

Read that closer. That had nothing to do with the legal system.

Dr. Hasan advised the woman to avoid the legal system, to accept the abuse and try to change to not displease her husband. He has the right to do so, but she also has the right to tell him he's full of it and go talk to the police.

I have a right to take certain obligations on myself, religious or otherwise. They don't have to be legally binding. I can ask advice from whomever I want on how to fulfill these. I have the right to intentionally enter and remain in an abusive relationship, or do other stupid things.

And here we get to one of the big paradoxes in a free society. How much do we interfere in the life of somebody who's doing things harmful to themselves? The quickie answer is "not at all", but that ignores the fact that people in bad situations don't necessarily think straight and aren't always really competent to make their own judgments. One example would be somebody whose voices tell them to avoid all medical treatment - that person may well be incompetent to make decisions, and probably should get forced treatment. Abused wives are often in a comparable psychological situation, unable to think straight about their own needs. That's something we do need to debate, and whether we're talking about an abusive husband taking support from a Sharia court or simply convincing his wife that she'd be worse off without him doesn't matter.

Comment Re:The word "limited" (Score 1) 442

Congress is indeed authorized to set the term. However, what progress is made by extending copyrights on already produced material? The original author(s) produced their work on the assumption that they'd have a certain number of years to profit on a copyright, not more, and we can't encourage them to have produced more by lengthening pre-existing copyrights.

It's also arguable that nobody does anything under the assumption that there might be financial gain X years later, for some value of X, and therefore a term longer than X does not promote such progress by providing an incentive, and therefore a term longer than X is unconstitutional. I'm having real problems trying to imagine an X over 30 years, and that's pushing it.

Comment Re:Protecting the arts and artists (Score 1) 442

Copyrights are supposed to encourage the creator to create stuff. Not "more stuff". Why tell an author with a terminal illness that neither the author nor heirs will get much of anything for what the author writes? Why not say that the author's heirs will get the same rights as the author had, and let that be incentive?

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