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Comment Re:Patent troll? (Score 1) 259

Okay, you come up with a patented idea that will be worth tens or hundreds of millions, once it's up and going. Since you're trying to implement it, or something, you can only pay $5K. Big Company, Inc. copies everything, makes tens or hundreds of millions, pays you $100K.

Comment Re:Cue Alarmists (Score 1) 468

The greatest predicted temperature increases are in the northern taiga forests and tundra. That would make a lot of arable land.

If it's warmer, will it be usable farmland? Have there been any studies?

Usable farmland has to have halfway decent soil, not-too-awful soil chemistry, reasonable amounts of water, that sort of thing. Has somebody done a study on random taiga, to see if all it needs is to be warmed up?

There's no evidence that anyone has been inconvenienced by AGW.

All over the world, we've been having a large amount of weird weather, some of it destructive. Hurricane Sandy is a good example, and the flooding was exacerbated to some extent by rising sea levels, which are due to global warming. Now, we can't definitively point to any given incident and say it's because of global warming, but the theory predicts wonky weather, we get lots of wonky weather, and some of it has been pretty darn inconvenient. All together that amounts to evidence of inconvenience.

One problem with the climate change going on is that we don't know what specifically is caused by global warming and what's just flukes (until, of course, it's Too Late). That means that people who have some interest in denying its effects have no difficulty in doing so.

Comment Re:My Question (Score 1) 175

It was probably not a good idea to involve himself because of his condition, but I imagine he probably had little idea of exactly what sort of pain he would call down on himself.

He did what he thought was right regardless of the depression, and that takes guts and determination. He presumably thought he could take whatever the authorities threw at him, and either underestimated it (the prosecutor was piling on disproportionate pressure, AFAIK), or his ability to resist. In any case, I have to admire him.

It's quite possible that he was headed into deeper depression when he killed himself. That can make suicide very tempting, and if he wasn't sure he'd be free to do so later I can easily imagine him taking the only sure preventative action.

Comment Re:Hiring Kim Dotcom! (Score 1) 377

It surprised me when I learned that Federal law was different in different places. How it works is that the Circuit Courts make rulings on ambiguous parts of the law (and there are almost always ambiguities) and they aren't necessarily the same. Unless and until the Supreme Court rules or one or both Circuit Courts change their minds, the law is different.

I got this from a friend who worked in accounting for a large company, and complained about having to keep dual accounts, one by federal law in the circuit Florida is in, and one by federal law in the circuit Minnesota is in.

Comment Re:I'm sorry but he is wrong.. (Score 1) 95

Except that it inherently can't work like a cartel. If you want to set up a server with a LAMP stack, you certainly can. You can fiddle with anything about it. You can get into the business if you can find a way of differentiating your product in a good way, using all the FOSS you want. Your scenario applies only if server vendors were to get together and write some proprietary software.

As far as new operating systems go, darn few made it big in, say, the 90s, before Linux was all that important. At that time, the big OSes available would be two basic versions of Windows (NT and everything else), MacOS, assorted flavors of Unix, and some specialized ones (IBM mainframes, real-time OSes, etc.). There were OSes that some people considered technically superior at the time, such as BeOS, and they essentially went nowhere. Since then, there has been a convergence on Windows NT descendants and Linux/Unix. Even mobile phones are moving towards this, with iOS and Android being Unix-based.

What FOSS has done is given everybody some free baseline capabilities, and raised the bar for proprietary systems. In order to make money on Windows and IIS, Microsoft has to make it more attractive than Linux and Apache, and where Microsoft can't do this they can't make money.

Comment Re:Any report on pdf quality? (Score 1) 224

If we're talking about the original books, the first three of which were published in 1974, there was almost certainly no computer and hence no files involved. TSR, at that time, got its money from publishing miniature wargames rules, which never has been a path to riches, so it was cheap printing by 1974 standards.

Comment Re:D&D PDFs? (Score 1) 224

When I got my copies of the original books, I also got a promise that I could download them up to five times in the future. As an old-fashioned geek, I downloaded my copies and backed them up where they're nice and safe. Nobody's coming after me and removing them from my disks and other locations. I didn't really care when RPGNow told me they couldn't honor that promise any more, but it is something I paid for and didn't get.

However, somebody used to trusting in the Cloud might have counted on being able to re-download as promised, and in that case would not have received what he or she was promised in exchange for money. The original AC may well be in that position. (Note that being [adjective] for trusting in the Cloud should not negate the original transaction without at least partial refund.)

Comment Re:Ah! (Score 3, Interesting) 354

Searle's Chinese Room paper is basically one big example of begging the question.

The hypothetical setting is a room with rules for transforming symbols, a person, and lots and lots of scratch paper. Stick a question or something written in Chinese in one window, person goes through the rules and puts Chinese writing out of the other window. Hypothesize that this passes the Turing test with people fluent in Chinese.

Searle's claim is that the room cannot be said to understand Chinese, since no component can be said to understand Chinese. The correct answer, of course, is that the understanding is emergent behavior. (If it isn't, then Searle is in the rather odd position of claiming that some subatomic particles must understand things, since everything that goes on in my brain is emergent behavior of the assorted quarks and leptons in it.) Heck, later in the paper, he says understanding is biological, and biology is emergent behavior from chemistry and physics.

He then proposes possible arguments against, and answers each of them by going through topics unrelated to his argument, although relevant to the situation, and finishes with showing that it's equivalent to the Chinese Room, and therefore doesn't have understanding. Yes, this part of the paper is simply begging the question and camouflage. It was hard for me to realize this, given the writing, but once you're looking for it you should see it.

Comment Re:Information bubble in the USA too? (Score 1) 187

Note, however, that you were able to post the above, and (even if you live in the US) you haven't been "disappeared". That's one big difference.

I can get solid information on a good many issues you mentioned, much of it from US government websites. (I can get proof that we don't have the healthiest population from the CIA World Fact Book, for example.) This is not an information bubble. I can get multiple viewpoints on a tremendous range of topics very easily. Try getting these viewpoints in North Korea, or publishing views critical of the government without facing severe consequences.

Comment Re:How many products reach that internal milestone (Score 1) 193

Apple must have had the ipad idea as early as ~2000....

The idea came a lot earlier than the execution. Sometime around 1980, my wife described an iPad to me, fairly accurately as to its general capabilities, and said that's what she wanted. I thought a bit, and said it would be neat but it couldn't be done with available technology.

Comment Re:inaccurate slashdot summary; not a new result (Score 1) 234

Violating causality, in this context, is having future events affect past events. This allows a vicious causal circle.

Suppose we have ansibles (Ursula K. LeGuin's instantaneous communicators), and that you're in a spaceship moving very fast relative to me, so that one hour of my time looks like half an hour of yours, from my point of view. Assume also that special relativity holds, so we have no preferred reference frame, and each of us works in our own.

You pass very close to me at one point, and we synchronize clocks and calendars. Two years passes.

At that time, I transmit who won the World Series to you, with a request to copy it back. Two years has passed, so from my point of view one year has passed for you. You receive this when you're one year from our rendezvous, and retransmit it. From your point of view, only six months have passed for me, so I get the copy of the original message eighteen months before I send it, in plenty of time to place a bet before the baseball season opens.

You can play with other assumptions, but it won't fundamentally change the outcome. If any sort of FTL communication is possible, and special relativity holds, it will always be possible to set up some sort of future-to-past causality.

Comment Re:Like all the slander against Israel and the US (Score 1) 191

It's not an ad hominem. That would be if Zero_Kelvin had said something disparaging about you that wasn't related to the argument, and said that you were wrong because of it. This is a case of you making a claim, and Zero_Kelvin describing your failings on the basis of the argument. My impression of a person claiming that the world has become backward is that he or she isn't familiar with history, since I have some idea what society was like back then, and it hasn't become backward, it started that way and is slowly, unevenly, and not monotonically pulling itself out.

Comment Re:Not going to fly (Score 1) 323

Not only does it require real time commitment, it gives me (as a member of the public) a chance to see who's protesting, read protest signs, and possibly ask a protestor about the issues. A DDOS on a website I use will have me annoyed that the website is slow. I won't even know it's a DDOS, let alone who's doing it and why.

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The trouble with opportunity is that it always comes disguised as hard work. -- Herbert V. Prochnow