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Comment Re:I know the scientist... (Score 1) 182

War criminals should use your defense at their trials. "But your honor, we get a few million dead every year from starvation and other diseases. What's the difference if I round up a million for execution by firing squad?"

I don't think he's suggesting that shooting civilians is acceptable behavior. He's just pointing out (staying with your metaphor) that withholding the specs for a new bullet won't make much difference in the annual death toll caused by gunshot wounds.

Comment Re:Will this stupidity ever end? (Score 1) 228

I didn't suggest any lynching

Didn't intend to suggest that you did. Shooting CEOs in the head outside of the rule of law is a bad thing. I think we can safely agree on that.

i suggest proper laws.

In all seriousness, that's always a better solution than mob violence. I just sometimes worry that mob violence is going to happen faster than proper laws.

Comment Re:New Season of Big Bang Theory (Score 1) 254

In any case, it's kind of hard to get worked up about someone insulting someone else on the internet

I think the concern is more the deletion of the blog entry at Scientific American. It smacks unpleasantly of cronyism and makes them appear complicit in an attempt to bully writers into working for free. None of which reflects well on SciAm. Which is a shame really, since the magazine has a good reputation and well deserved so far as I can see,

Regardless of the insult, the reaction at SciAm seems like a grave error in judgement.

Comment Re:Anyone noticed (Score 1) 348

At least with open source DRM you know they are only doing what they say. Not a big difference, but also not a big cost.

That's not going to happen. The only thing that makes DRM schemes work at all is security-through-obscurity. If we have an open source DRM module then anyone who can read C/C++/whatever can look at the source and see not only the encryption algorithm used, but also where in memory to look for the encryption key. DRM is stupid, but it's not that stupid.

Which is probably why (if I understand the proposal correctly) the proposal is for an API rather than an implementation. In fact...

This specification does not define a content protection or Digital Rights Management system. Rather, it defines a common API that may be used to discover, select and interact with such systems as well as with simpler content encryption systems

So "it's ok, it's going to be open source" isn't terribly reassuring, either.

Comment Re:Cross device integration (Score 1) 410

Me, I'm still waiting for a spanner that works just as well on screws. And which can get nails out of wood. But everytime I complain about it, someone pops up with some bullshit argument about having different tools specialised for different purposes. Crazy, right?

If not already, this kind of seamless integrations between their devices is something people will require soon

Seriously, why? I'll grant you that automounting phones on desktop systems could benefit from a bit more handholding for non-technical users, but why assume a common interface is useful, let alone desirable?

Comment Re:Overall right but unlikely to happen (Score 4, Insightful) 410

First, he means GNU/Linux, not Linux.

No, I don't believe he does. The name "Linux" is overloaded and is used to refer both to the Linux Kernel and to the desktop operating system built around that kernel.

You well may feel that the GNU userland tools are more important than the Linux Kernel and that therefore the GNU project should have first billing. As such it is your right to prefix the OS name with "GNU/" if you feel that helps anything. But that doesn't make the more widespread usage wrong, and neither you nor Richard Stallman get to tell us what we call the OS.

This has been a public information announcement. Thank you for your attention.

Comment Re:Anyone noticed (Score 1) 348

Didn't work with DVDs. Remember you only need one place to get an unencrypted copy. CDs made DRM on music files irrelevant.

I'm not aguing against that. DRM is fundamentally flawed as a concept. It involves giving the user the cyphertext and the encryption key together and hoping the key is well enough hidden that the user won't be able to use it except on the supplier's terms. Given a skilled and determined opponent, DRM is always going to fail. That's pretty much a given.

What I don't understand though, is why some people seem to see that as a good reason to include DRM into the W3C standard. I can see that it appeals to the techno-anarchist element on Slashdot, (which is most of us by my reckoning) but we still don't gain anything by the inclusion of DRM in the standard. So why are some people so keen to see it adopted?

It feels to me like we're being played. Like someone wondered how best to astroturf the issue in the techie forums and decided to tell us all that we were all Cyber Robin Hood and that the most fun thing ever would be to support the proposition now and rape the content once it was adopted. And to avoid any mention of the legal side of things and in particular the potential for punitive lawsuits to discourage attempts to crack the system.

TL;DNR: Yeah, DRM doesn't work. But that's not a good reason to include it in the W3C standards.

Comment Re:Anyone noticed (Score 1) 348

That is a bit of a stretch. If the non-compliance is simply a case of not supporting the DRM part of the spec (or doing so incorrectly/not in full), that does not aid in circumvention as the DRM content simply will not play.

It IS a bit of a stretch. The trick would be to require digitally signed browsers and then shift the burden of demonstrating compliance onto the distributor. Then you could talk about non-compliant browsers as circumvention tools. But we're a good way away from that as yet.

On the other hand, I don't think there's any doubt that breaking the DRM is going to be illegal, and that's what bothers me about all these calls to support the proposal on the grounds that DRM is technically flawed. Because any eforcement is only going to use technical measures as a first line of defence. The second line will be lawyers and lawsuits.

Comment Re:Anyone noticed (Score 1) 348

My philosophy is this:

First, try to follow the law. Do not compromise principles, but try to follow the law. Second, if following the law means I must compromise my principles, break the law. Third, do not ever get caught, also help others to circumvent the law and not get caught.

The law can get fucked when it has become the tool of big business to wield against normal people.

Firstly, I can't help but admire your principles.

That said, it seems to me one thing to call for massed civil disobedience against an unjust application of an unjust law, but quite another to advocate illegal behaviour as a workaround for a standard that hasn't yet been passed.

The first case is, arguably, every person's civic duty in the face of oppression. The second is simple contempt for the law. I think that's a much harder proposition to justify, both philosophically, and in a court of law.

Comment Re:Anyone noticed (Score 1) 348

What you get it useless, easily bipassable security features

Which would be fine, except that bypassing those features is almost certainly going to be illegal under laws like the DMCA. We can expect to see people sued and non-complying browsers declared illegal as circumvention tools.

So are you really advocating breaking the law as a valid response to an onerous standard?

And if one day the content corporations launch a series of prohibitive lawsuits, will you condemn those corporation for their poor behavior? Or will you (as many others undoubtedly will) say "morality has nothing to do with it - it's the law".

And maybe "you should have complained when the standard was first proposed."

Comment Re:Open source browsers? (Score 1) 307

You still seem to be missing my point: standards don't force the big vendors to do anything at all ever. The big vendors do what they want to meet their business needs. You can either write a standard that describes that (e.g., SCSI) or write a standard that fails to describe that, and thus generally fails (like HTML in the IE6 years).

Well that's one way of looking at it. Or we could consider that conforming to existing standards helped establish Firefox and Opera and break IE's dominance of the market and the long stagnantion of th Microsoft Years.

So maybe "fail" isn't the best word for what happened :)

I've been a secretary of a standards body working group, if we're appealing to experts here, but I don't see how that's particularly relevant.

I'm delighted that you've been secretary of a standards working group, it doesn't seem to follow that you know more about the SQL standards process that Michael Gorman who was secretary of that particular group.

But the point is that giving the big vendors everything they want does not necessarily result in a useful standard. And to support the point, I thought I'd provide a link to a case where exactly that had happened. And where the secretary of the working group (who might ordinarily be expected to support the standard in question) was the one questioning the validity of the result.

Just to be clear about this: I'm not invoking Gorman's name as an authority on the purpose of standards. I'm citing him as an authority on the standard that he oversaw, and the usefulness of that standard after the approach you advocate. And while I don't want to belittle your experience as secretary of an unrelated and unnamed group, it's not at all clear how that gives your opinion equal weigh as regards SQL.

"Because the big boys want it" is the only relevant thing for a standard.

Citation needed :)

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Whenever people agree with me, I always think I must be wrong. - Oscar Wilde