Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


Forgot your password?

Comment Re:Exercise is a luxury in US culture (Score 1) 492

Actually, there's reasons to be scared of trying that. What you suggest is not guaranteed to work.

You didn't have a cushy job lined up, and counted on being able to get a job that would work. That's hardly guaranteed. You could easily wind up living a thousand miles from anyplace you've got personal support with rapidly dwindling savings.

You are lucky with your house. There's a whole lot of things that can happen to a house being rented. Most of them are much easier to deal with when you're not across the country. If you've got a relative or good friend who has volunteered to take care of things for you, great. Not everybody has one where they're moving from, and there's questions like how much free work can you expect out of your friend or relative when things go wrong. There's no particular reason you won't wind up with no rental income, thousands of dollars of repairs to get done remotely, and still have the house payment.

You were able to deal with an unexpected $10K expense in situations that must have strained your finances. Congrats; many people can't take that in stride. The ideal of six months' savings frequently doesn't work in practice for young couples with children. Now, what happens if your kid needs more expensive medical care, long-term, and the insurance companies call it a pre-existing condition? You've spent a lot of money already, may be getting drained by the long-distance house, and that house doesn't give you a place to live.

So your job doesn't demand long hours and has a reasonable commute? Good. How certain were you of finding that job? You're the new guy there, so if there's a temporary dip in the economy you're back out pounding the pavement. Got a backup plan in case you can't find another job that's close, pays enough to cover your increased needs, and doesn't require lots of overtime?

Where did you move to, where you can be assured of jobs you like that pay adequately, cost of living is low enough for you to get by, schools don't suck, etc.?

So, it's great that it worked for you. Some people are scared because there's an excellent chance, if they try this, that they'll wind up unable to support their children in a reasonable (not affluent) manner. You seem to disregard all this and think that, just because you were sufficiently lucky, anybody who tries to emulate you will also be sufficiently lucky. It really doesn't work that way.

Comment Re:What to do? Some science, please. (Score 1) 510

Sure. Thing is, we can't do anything directly about H2O. The amount in the atmosphere is going to be pretty well fixed. If we put more in, there'll be more rain. If we take some out, there'll be more evaporation.* Since the amount in the atmosphere depends on temperature, it will simply reinforce other warming and cooling effects. In particular, with more CO2 in the air, things will warm up and we'll have more H2O in the air, and it'll warm up more. With less CO2 in the air, less H2O, etc.

*Oversimplification. Not to be considered absolutely correct in all details, but generally true.

Comment Re:Smart Criminals (Score 1) 179

Depends. The banks are already ideally making as much off you as they can, and raising fees will drive business to other banks. The shareholders take the hit in this case. If this were to become widespread, everybody would raise fees, and the banks would take in more money. The demand for banking services is quite inelastic, so industry-wide price changes will bring more revenue in, but there's competition among banks.

Comment Re:Tracing the Transfer (Score 1) 179

AIUI, that's one of the big problems. It's possible to get the money untraceable, but that generally means having some fall guy do it for you, so you're limited by the availability of fall guys.

"Look, sir, here's a cashier's check for $110K. You deposit it, wait until it clears so there's no risk to you*, then just pass off $100K as we direct and keep the remaining $10K for your trouble."

*This is the lie here; cashier's checks are traceable and can clear as far as the fall guy can tell long before they're traced.

According to a story on /. a long time ago, this sort of robbery is basically robbing the fall guys. One problem, of course, is that people who will fall for this trick may well not have $100K in assets to pay the bank back.

Comment Re:Trespassing (Score 1) 186

First, "authorization" is not a technical term here. It is a legal issue. In general, you're authorized to access all websites you can, and that appears to be the judge's presumption. This can change when you are formally told you're unauthorized to access one. If a site is concerned with authorization, it usually has some sort of sign-in mechanism, but that isn't legally necessary. If you haven't been formally notified that you're unauthorized, you can rely on implicit authorization. Frankly, I don't see any other way of running the web.

Second, IP blocking is not a good blocking mechanism, but it is a blocking mechanism. Similarly, a cheap spring lock is a lock. The judge does not seem to have considered circumvention of an IP block to be unauthorized access in itself. However, using a proxy to get around an IP block is evidence of intent to access the site, and since 3taps had no authorization that established intent for unauthorized access. There's no law against me wearing a baseball cap and hoodie to Wal-Mart, but if I was forbidden to access that particular Wal-Mart it may be evidence that I knew I was doing something wrong.

Third, a publicly facing website is not the same as a publicly facing billboard. The billboard stands there, and I can see it without doing anything to it. The web site is active, and accepts and deals with HTTP packets. Any HTTP request is a request to access the computer system. This is a technical point, but it does have legal consequences.

Fourth, the Internet does need, and does have, legal regulation of some sort. The question is what sort we are going to get. Judgments like this one are good, since they establish a clear line where illegal behavior occurs, and won't affect people in normal use.

Comment Re:Not Unreasonable (Score 1) 186

Sorry, I didn't get that from your post.

Further, the slippery slope argument doesn't apply to this story, because the judge's ruling cited two actions on CL's part. CL did those because of their terms of use, but the judge didn't say anything implying that violating TOU was criminal. The ruling was that it is possible to deny somebody authorization to access a site by sending formal notice, regardless of why, that accessing the site afterwards is unauthorized access, and bypassing even a trivial IP block is evidence of intentional access. This is a step against the slippery TOU slope, in that the TOU had nothing to do with the judge's decision. (That the TOU caused CL to deny authorization is immaterial; they could have done that just as legally if they didn't like organizations with names beginning with a digit, and the ruling would have been just as applicable.)

Comment Re:Well what do you know.... (Score 1) 264

Sure, you can sell things with contractual conditions. This would be a considerable drag on your sales.

First, something with conditions is inherently worth less. If I buy a horse with no intentions of using it for farm labor, and with every intention of feeding it well, your conditions would become problems if either I needed money and wanted to sell the horse in an agricultural community, or if carrots became very expensive and difficult to get. Second, the act of signing a contract puts me at some legal risk, even if I perform the condition. What if you suspect I'm not providing the requisite carrots, and take legal action? If there were no contract, you'd have no standing to sue, and even if I handily win the lawsuit it's going to be stress, time, and expense to me. Third, if the horse is ever transferred from me without the contract (possibly in a bankruptcy), you've got no way to enforce your rules. Fourth, the signature requirement makes the sale clumsier. I can't just pay you with Paypal and have you mail the horse and then get the plates for it*, I have to have an exchange with an actual signature.

Now, apply this to creative work. If you need to sell your music with contractual ties, you get the above problems and more. You can't let me hear it for free unless I first sign an NDA, and it's impractical to get NDAs from anybody who might receive a radio station. My fictional fifteen-year-old daughter can't buy it on her own. As a result, people will buy music they can get without binding contracts, and if all music is only available under similar contracts the Justice Department is going to investigate you and friends for restraint of trade. (You also have to individually negotiate each contract or make very, very sure it very clearly says what you want - it is then a contract of adhesion, and the courts will settle any ambiguity in the purchaser's favor.) With this model, if even one copy gets out not under contract, or one person breaks a contract and makes copies, everybody can get free legal copies of your music. (If Joe violates his contract with you, and I get an uncontracted copy, you can sue Joe for breach of contract but you can't sue me, because I have no legal obligations to you.)

So, instead, we pass a copyright law. The Constitutional purpose, in the US, is to induce you to write music, not to grant you some sort of moral right. If the Founding Fathers had considered copyright to be some form of ownership, they wouldn't have bothered to give Congress specific powers to allow such monopolies. There's nothing in the Constitution specifically permitting laws in defense of property.

Now let's take the GPLv3 scenario. In a regime with copyright laws, you've violated the license and commercially redistributed large numbers of somebody else's copyrighted code without a license. You're in trouble. In a regime without, there's nothing to prevent somebody from buying an ASDAA, copying the executable software and distributing it freely, and reverse-engineering your changes to add back into the original code. You're not able to sell it for big bucks because you're undercut by free copies. The GPL was originally intended as a judo-like tactic, using copyright law against the idea of copyright. While it serves some other of Stallman's goals, its essential purpose is to prevent copyright restrictions from being slapped onto code.

*My knowledge of horses is not great. Work with me here.

Comment Re:Over-eager blacklists? (Score 1) 186

Yet you're telling me that, if I try to bypass a blacklist for any reason, I'm committing fraud?

No, nobody's telling you that.

The judge apparently assumes that people are in general authorized to access public web sites, but that a formal letter revoking that authorization to a particular entity does remove the authorization. A C&D letter isn't a legal mandate, and you won't be prosecuted for violating one, but you could be if you do something potentially illegal. The fact that 3taps circumvented the IP block established intent.

It's possible that there will be a ruling saying that bypassing and IP block is unauthorized access (and I hope not), but this isn't it.

Comment Re:Not Unreasonable (Score 1) 186

This ruling does not imply that Aaron Schwarz was acting illegally, and it isn't a slippery slope. Terms of use had nothing to do with the decision.

The important features are the formal letter CL sent to 3taps, informing them that they didn't have permission to access CL servers with HTTP requests, and the IP block CL set up. Schwarz was never formally notified that he didn't have access permission, although he did evade some technical restrictions. If the judge's ruling stood up as the definitive interpretation of the law, Schwarz wouldn't be guilty of violating the CFAA (which of course would not have prevented the overzealous prosecutor from threatening him)

Comment Re:Trespassing (Score 1) 186

What part of the Internet don't you understand? You're making a direct analog between meat-space and cyberspace where it doesn't work.

If I look at a Wal-Mart entrance from off their property, I am standing there being passive. I'm just receiving and interpreting large numbers of photons that go from the entrance to my eyes. I might be doing this even if I have no desire to look at a Wal-Mart. If I look at a web page, I'm sending a HTTP request to the appropriate server, and expecting to have that server do the appropriate work to return some HTML/etc. No HTTP request, no returning web page. This is, in a very real sense, computer access. A better meat-space analogy would be if I walked into the Wal-Mart to look at the fliers. This is normally harmless, accepted, and perfectly legal. If I'm barred from entering Wal-Mart, it turns into trespass.

You've also said there was no authorization mechanism, but CL used an IP block. It isn't much of an authorization mechanism, but a pitiful lock is still, legally, a lock.

The ruling said that CL had formally notified 3taps that it was no longer authorized to access CL's systems (the C&D letter), and that CL had taken steps to prevent this access (the IP block). Therefore, 3taps (a) knew it wasn't to access CL's servers, and (b) intentionally took action to access them anyway. Without (a), there'd be no case. Without (b), it would be hard to prove intent.

Comment Re:are you sure that _NO_ONE_ can open them? (Score 1) 394

AES-256? Somebody cracking it by brute force would need to be incredibly lucky to succeed before the Sun turns cold. Even with weaknesses in the cipher, there's still way over a hundred bits of entropy in the key.

It is of course possible that there's a completely unexpected weakness in the cipher, but I don't think that's the right way to bet. I think the insurance file is quite secure.

Comment Re:Missing the point as usual (Score 1) 277

When I was involved, AI was divided between the "neats" and the "scruffies". The scruffies were the Perl hackers you mention, although much more likely to be using Lisp or Prolog than Perl. The neats looked at what the scruffies did, and created a more theoretical understanding of it. (Of course, if they were too successful, that particular area would cease to be AI. In the early 60s, finding integrals was AI.) This, in turn, would help scruffies take further steps into AI. Both were necessary.

Comment Re:Try claiming "Death to the Great Satan". (Score 1) 490

Silenced by whom? Phelps has a right to rant in his own preferred way, but not a right to make anybody listen to him. By claiming the attack was God's punishment for tolerating homosexuality, he appears to have something of a receptive audience. That doesn't mean he'd have the same audience for claiming it was God's punishment for not enacting Sharia law. It also doesn't mean somebody would do something nefarious and/or illegal to silence him if he were Muslim.

Personally, I'm not fond of either Bible thumping or Koran thumping in the service of hate, and think that anybody irrational enough to go along with it is very likely to think their particular religious group is good and others are bad.

Slashdot Top Deals

This system will self-destruct in five minutes.