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Comment Re:One person's myth is another person's fact. (Score 1) 580

I forget my C standards trivia, but are you saying that C doesn't require sign-extended right shift when operating on a signed operand, or that compilers are broken, or that you need to cast the "-1" constant to a signed type before shifting it?

The first one. The behavior of the right shift operator is unspecified (implementation defined) when operating on a signed negative value.

Comment Re:Because obscurity... (Score 1) 379

Very good post, but I must point out that there is in fact a great deal of psychological literature on decision-making, and I am alarmed at the number of decisions that adults "make" that are foregone conclusions of programming. This is not the abstract "there is no free will because free will implies uncaused causation" but a much more concrete "the conscious mind spends a lot of time justifying and making up explanations for decisions that the subconscious makes without recourse to reason."

What this tells me is that the mental capacity for informed decision-making is overrated, and that claims about minors' inability to make informed decisions are likely to be post-hoc justifications for some predetermined end (e.g. "I'm uncomfortable with the idea of my kids having sex, so I'll grab onto whatever reason I can find to substitute my decisions for theirs").

Another example is voting: the voting age is commonly justified by claims that minors don't have the knowledge or long-term planning capacity to make an informed decision, but we all know adults often vote based on superficial, short-term considerations as well. For instance, proponents of the voting age might say "but kids will just vote for whoever promises less homework!" while ignoring the number of adults who just vote for whoever promises lower taxes. Again, I have to suspect that the real motivation has less to do with minors' mental capacity and more to do with a preexisting desire to prevent their interests from being represented.

Comment Who cares about what you write, it's what you say. (Score 2, Interesting) 206

So for Americans, it's now "twenty ten" as for the rest of the world, it's now "two thousand and ten" - admitedly the American method is far more effecient, it's the only place I've ever heard people say this before. but I'm sure most of the American readers could care less,...

Comment Re:Freedom! (Score 2, Insightful) 253

I agree with you, in that freedom to do what you will with what you own should be a right.

This is why I, and many others, jailbreak my iPhone. Unix shell and root privileges? Why, thank you, iPwn!

Yes, it would be a much nicer world if Apple let us have more freedom from the start, but it's Apple's right, I guess, to do what they want with the product they make. I take it as a good gesture, though, that Apple is not actively discouraging jailbreaking. Now, unlocking, on the other hand...

I see it as the same as the content locks on the Xbox 360, or the Wii. They'll only play approved content, before you hack them open. Which I do, and love. But you never hear of people whining that the Wii won't let you run arbitrary content. Is the iPhone very much different?

Comment Re:Because obscurity... (Score 2, Insightful) 379

It's a well known (scientific!) fact that children grow and learn. At some point, they stop growing, and, well, slow down in learning. At that point, they become adults. Children cannot consent. Adults can.

There are a couple serious problems with this approach.

1. Not everyone "stops growing" at the same age. How do you determine whether or not someone has reached that point yet, using nothing but pure logic?

If you have a good answer that can be practically implemented, then I'd honestly love to hear it. I personally oppose age-based laws as a matter of principle, because I believe discriminating against someone because of the specific number of times they've orbited the sun is every bit as unfair as discriminating based on the color of their skin. But the alternatives I've heard are far from perfect. I think they'd still be better than age-based laws, but I accept that they'd involve a lot more false positives, which is fine with me - that's a matter of priorities (I think giving young people freedom is more valuable than protecting them from the consequences of their own choices), not logic.

2. "Children cannot consent. Adults can" is an awfully simplistic and glib way to talk about it. Children can and do consent to things every day: for example, no one seriously argues that a 10 year old can't make an informed decision between chocolate and vanilla ice cream. What people claim is that children lack the capacity to make informed decisions about some things which have particularly dangerous or permanent consequences, or which require some (vaguely defined) sort of life experience or "emotional maturity" to be truly informed.

There is no "consent" section of the brain that suddenly comes online on a person's 16th or 18th birthday. There is no bright line between "child" and "adult" at a biological level. There is no scientific consensus, let alone logical proof, as to what physical capacity a person needs to make informed decisions, or how to measure that capacity, or even at what age that capacity tends to arise (see the variation in ages of consent across the US and around the world). Setting a policy here requires more than just logic.

Comment That's not what ex post facto means (Score 1) 331

"No bill of attainder or ex post facto law shall be passed."

Congress broke the biggest law.

While I agree with the sentiment behind your post, a retroactive copyright extension is not an ex post facto law.

An ex post facto law is one that retroactively outlaws a past act, punishing someone for doing something that was legal at the time. Retroactive copyright extension doesn't do that: if I legally copy a public domain work today, and then the copyright term is extended tomorrow (taking that work out of the public domain), I'm in the clear. Only future copying is illegal.

Comment Re:Because obscurity... (Score -1, Flamebait) 379

Well, the truth sometimes hurts. If one cannot logically explain himself/herself, one has no business being an "opponent" in any logical discussions, be it with myself or anybody else. I guess you could call it "poisoning of the well" from the point of view of peddlers of all kinds of illogical woo-woo.

Then sir, I respectfully submit that it is time for you to remove yourself from the discussion. As so far your attempts at logic have mostly been blatantly illogical.

Comment Re:One killer "gadget" (Score 1) 313

Cheap, fast, good. Pick any two.

Humbug. Advancing technology can give us all three at once. I'll take a $200 digital camera today over any camera that existed 10 years ago at any price.

And yes, I still have a Canon SLR from the 70s, and a Canon S100 Digital Elph (released May 2000), and they both still work, but it's a moot point because I haven't bothered with either in years.

Comment Re:Comparison with CDMA (Score 1) 299

That's presumably "CDMA" as in "Qualcomm's cdmaOne and CDMA2000", not "CDMA" as in "Code Division Multiple Access".

Right. Specifically, "CDMA" as in "the main alternative to GSM".

That sounds as if it's referring to "CDMA" as in "Code Division Multiple Access", Does it apply to W-CDMA as used in UMTS 3G networks (such as AT&T in the US and just about everybody in Europe)?

I believe it does - it's a feature of the radio interface. Code Division Multiple Access requires you to know the codes in use before you have any hope of picking out a signal.

I don't know how easy UMTS makes it to discover or guess those codes, though. (Or, to be honest, how easy it is to do the same in cdmaOne/CDMA2000.)

Comment Re:Is this even worth getting excited over? (Score 1) 95

What was so special about Halo compared to Duke Nukem 3D?

What was so special about Duke Nukem 3D compared to Doom, Quake, or 3D Realms' own Rise of the Triad?

Halo was essentially a greatest hits album of FPSes. What set it apart was its popularity. As far as I can tell, that's what set Duke Nukem 3D apart from its peers, too.

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