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Comment New For Nerds, Stuff That Ma--ROBOPOPE? (Score 1) 542

One team will built RoboCardinal (RoboPope-to-be).

Another team will supply a smokebomb, used to manipulate the chimney output.

And some of us ought to know some "jocks" to use for the actual insertion operation. It's ok if most of the cardinals are killed. Or .. wait .. killed and replaced, since I see no reason that only one RoboCardinal need be constructed. You know the second one will be better than the prototype, but with some extra bugs, the third one filled with dubious bloatware, and the forth should be about right to serve as actual pope.

Comment Re:Creepy spying (Score 1) 64

Anyone who goes to the extreme overkill of disguising an entire vehicle-with-a-camera as a common object, when they could just disguise a camera which would be both easier (since it's much smaller and not vehicle-shaped) and a mere fraction of the price, deserves to win. If someone buys a Hubble telescope and hides it in my bathroom disguised as toiler paper roll, I hereby agree that such a badass motherfucker may gaze at my naked form as much as they like.

Whatever happened to the days that we all admired people who take on a project with a voluntary and totally unreasonable handicap? "I'm going to walk my cat around the dog park! Without any restraints!"

Comment Re:Stealth became a necessary tactic (Score 1) 197

Having a whole bunch of radio signals emanating from your planet is like saying "rob me! rape me! kill me!" to any wandering castoffs from alien civilization.

Unless we detect such signals. In which case, a bunch of radio signals means "come into this trap."

Hey, you're right: paranoia is fun!

Comment Re:Thirst Toast (Score 1) 197

It's probably going to happen in the opposite order. I bet we'll know the inevitability of life, long before we ever know where our life came from.

Someone will create conditions where a new tree of life can spontaneously start, or else we'll find a different independent already-existing one. Meanwhile, all traces of our own tree root will still be three-billion-years eroded/eaten.

Comment Re:Take that MPAA/RIAA (Score 4, Insightful) 159

I really don't understand why everyone here makes such a big deal out of this. Is theft some special, awful crime in the US? .. Everyone wastes so much time arguing about an exact physical analogy to copyright infringement that the main issue (without copyright, creators get no financial reward for their work) goes ignored.

Metaphors can be a tool for avoiding deep thought. This isn't necessarily a bad thing; I'm not saying don't use metaphors or use any other heuristics in order to avoid doing work! Sometimes that's a wise approach, especially if you're trying to do something quickly. Sometimes, though, you want people to think harder, and then you want to discourage metaphors. Perhaps you're not in a hurry. Or you want people to not think, so you encourage a default position which works to your own advantage.

If copyright infringement is theft, then instead of wasting time thinking about how you might deal with copyright infringement, you can instead think about how you have in the past dealt with theft. (For the most part, people think theft has been covered fairly well, as societies have had millennia to work on it.) Then, if you implement similar policies with regard to copyright infringement, this is simple conservativism rather than radical new-fangled unproven speculation. It's common sense. It's tried and true strategy. Not thinking can be smart! (?!)

If copyright infringement is not theft, then it's probably dumb to use policies derived from theft. It's going to fail to address the badness in copyright infringement, and it's going to result in collateral damage against innocent non-infringers (i.e. the policy will cause badness of some kind).

In USA, we currently all vote unanimously for politicians who treat copyright infringement as theft; we've either completely bought into the metaphor, or we act like we have. These lawmakers then pass laws which are based on that idea, so, for example, you get a situation where DRM is seen as being much like a "lock" on someone else's property. Of course you don't break someone else's lock, unless you intend to steal their stuff. From this premise, DMCA isn't absurd.

On the other hand...

If you have used a computer for more than a couple weeks, or if you have ever purchased DRMed media and then tried to make use of it, then you start to realize that the "lock" is on something you bought, and keeps you from conveniently making non-infringing use of it. So right off, the metaphor is letting you down, and laws based on it (DMCA) are a kind of injustice. But it gets even worse. You go pirate the thing you already bought, in order to get a DRM-free copy which you're able to play (if the DRM is non-trivial; if the DRM is trivial then you might simply use an illegal player, limiting your "black market" exposure to a single non-recurring instance). Go through this a few times, and you soon get habituated to using the piracy sources routinely, and ..

.. (huh, that's weird, who could have predicted this?) ..

.. eventually you stop seeing any advantage to ever bothering with the initial purchasing step. You never get anything useful out of it except a warm'n'fuzzy feeling, and you always have to pirate anyway, so pretty soon the piracy sources become the primary source ("I'll get around to buying the BluRay that the file was derived from, some day.... even though it'll stay shrink-wrapped since staying up-to-date with the keys and the BD+ scheme du jour is so tedious..")..

.. somehow the lawmakers' metaphor that copyright infringement is theft, not only fails to make a dent in the theft, but is causing creators to get less financial reward. Oops. Instead of the law being a force for justice, it has created an "Everyone loses" situation.

That is the power of a metaphor, when the metaphor has been drawn incorrectly.

Thinking of copyright infringement as theft, isn't merely lazy or sloppy thinking (we could all excuse that); it's counter-productive, actually working against the very goal of copyright. Better yet, the metaphor is obviously bad and counter-productive, to everyone who actually works with .. computers? Maybe it was insightful to see the flaw twenty years ago, but these days it takes about as much brainpower to derive as "don't play with matches." Obvious flaws can be kind of fun to rub peoples' noses in, so expect the "copyright infringement is not theft" posts to continue until the stupid metaphor is dead.

The real irony, BTW, is the each side holds the wrong position for their own self-interest. The media, who is financially harmed the the dumb metaphor, encourages it. The "hardcore pirates" or others who do it for its own sake, discourage the metaphor even though it has given them more power than they had before, putting them into a limelight as a mainstream necessity. We not only have an "everyone loses" situation, but everyone is trying to lose. ;-)

Comment Re:Forget about them (Score 3, Insightful) 187

If they are too stupid to set it up correctly, then they aren't the fools whom you are supposed to part with their money?!

"Too stupid" is exactly the kind of person I'm looking for!

It's the smart people I don't want to hear from. You know the people I'm talking about: the ones who are so smart that they don't have to work, they just program their botnet to send viagra spam and sit back and collect the money. I admire them, but they're useless to me.

Comment Re:Only over my dead body (Score 1) 240

Hopefully not buying the spyware is enough. It might not. If they pass a law that you have to just sit there and take it, when they come to your house, point a gun at you, go to your computer, type "sudo apt-get install spyware", and then say "type your password or else I will kill you" then you will have an important decision to make.

The decision: whether or not to tell them they're typing in the VM sandbox that you set up for just that sort of eventuality.

I say you shouldn't. But talk is cheap when I don't have a gun to my head.

Comment Re:Why would the originals be missing? (Score 5, Insightful) 241

um, missing from their website, where else?

Actually, the key here, is that it's not missing from their website. It's missing from Wordpress' website. They don't have a website of their own. If they did, then they (not Wordpress) would have been the one who received the DMCA notice, and the decision to pull or keep the "infringing" article would have been in the hands of someone with actual knowledge of the situation, rather than a frightened fold-by-default middleman.

Comment Mod parent ON topic (Score 1) 141

Everyone see the two radically conflicting views here? I don't know if the above post appeared in a thread about NNTP coincidentally or not, but it definitely is deeply related.

I have seen some references to articles and links that have interested me, and even though I've bookmarked lots of them, the bookmarks have sometimes disappeared due to computer crashes, software changes or updates or other reasons, and then I can't find the original article again

Call this the anti-NNTP position. Or in modern hipster speak, it's the "cloud" position. Summary: "Your computer is no good, and their computer is awesome."

When you bookmark or otherwise save the data on your machine, your imagination is the limit to what you can do with it. Well, your imagination if you're typing or pasting them into some text editor, or it's the browser authors' imagination if you're using the browser to do your bookmarking.

Many people are happy with that, but not completely. I've heard of third-party bookmarking sites (e.g.,, "syncing" plugins, etc though I've never used any of them. And in the above example, the person is having unrelated problems (broken browser or OS?) and so their computer is completely unreliable. No matter how well a browser handles bookmarks, it's not going to work for this guy, because his computer just isn't capable of reliably storing information for years. So of course he'd rather sites themselves provide features, such as say, bookmarking, since that's his only hope of things ever working.

And that has potential, but then the user's imagination, or the imaginations of those he delegate to make his tools, is no longer the upper limit as to what can be done ; the site owners' imaginations is the upper bound now. And possibly other factors too (maybe they'll get more ad impressions if they don't make it easy for you to quickly find things). And every site the users, needs to be persuaded to do whatever you want. And since sites are shared by many users, there is One Global Right Way to do things (for that site).

We know from experience, that "One Global Right Way" is always wrong.

Some of us see the problem from the other end, where we trust ourselves, or the software we use, to do things right, or at least to do things best, and the software is interchangeable and can be replaced if we don't like it, each competing to implement some particular protocol. That's why you have bookmarks at all: because someone at Netscape or Microsoft or whereever, saw that people were pasting URLs into some file. So they added it to the browser. And then the others browsers had to have it, and then a few browsers branched off and started doing it in slightly different ways.

And that would be ideal, if only the parent poster's computer fucking worked and could store things long-term. He could have reliable bookmarks and they could work however he wanted them to. But nooo.. people have to buy crap, or keep the Windows preload, or whatever is going on with this guy (maybe it's just bad luck that an alligator ate all his backups). So he wants the sites to do his bookmarking, since the sites are reliable. And there are lots of people who are just like him, so the pressure on the sites gets unbearable.

And everyone suffers as a consequence, as we drift into retarded "progress," and a weird mix of homogenity (every site does things for all its users, but in one way) and heterogeneity (each site does the aforementioned thing, in a different site-varying way), rather than simply letting everyone get everything they want, which people like me assume, has to be the truly best way to do anything. What part of "everyone wins" don't you like?! I don't want to tell you how to bookmark; I just want your computer or browser to be able to do it, somehow, so that site makers don't each waste time on that.

Just like I don't want to tell you how to thread posts. Your newsreader is for that .. oops, we don't use newsreaders anymore. Thanks, Slashdot.

It's stuff like this that makes me want to help fix someone's computer, replace their Windows with Linux, or whatever the fuck it is, that they so desperately need, that they'll stop depending on exterior computers owned by someone else, to solve their problems. Because I promise you all, even speaking as the guy who just a minute ago said he didn't want to tell you how to do things, that is the wrong answer. ;-)

Comment Re:OK. Next? (Score 2) 588

Can you install your own OS on your DVD player?

Of course. That's how it became a DVD player. Until I installed the OS and the DVD app, it was just a computer and an optical drive. It's the installation of software (which definitely does include the OS) which breathes life into the otherwise useless hardware.

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