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Comment So is Poettering, and me, and a million others (Score 1) 240

> I am the best developer for my domain.

For an sufficiently narrowly defined domain, so am I. Then again, so is Lennart Poettering.

Eric S. Raymond is a far more accomplished developer than I am. It is good for me to remember there are many, many far more accomplished, and many who are just plain more knowledgeable all around.

I happen to be, or once was, the best in the world at protecting paid web sites from unauthorized access. I was a longtime member of many cracker forums, and got a certain amount of respect because I had been around for many years and knew the ins and outs of the various security systems. Little did they know I was a spy, that the most senior member of their community was there to surveil them and feed them misinformation. So I was the best at my particular speciality, but plenty of people are better than me in much larger, more general domains. Being the best at one very specific thing doesn't make me good, it makes not versatile.

Comment The best in town learn from the best in the world (Score 2) 240

I've discussed the Linux RAID code with Neil Brown, who wrote most of it. That conversation made me keenly aware that my grasp of Linux storage it is rather pitiful.

I've discussed proposals for new internet protocols with Vint Cerf, known as "the father of the internet". I was reminded I'm the big fish only in a very, very small pond.

A few weeks ago someone at work asked for "a Perl guru". Just that morning I had participated in the Slashdot discussion with Larry Wall - a fresh reminder of who is a Perl guru and who isn't.

My co-worker read something about Linux on Stackoverflow, and he knew as much as other people posting to that question knew - he felt like an expert.

A co-worker once used "telnet 25" to do smtp. Nobody else he knows does that, so he's an expert.

My own experience is that the more I learn, the more I am exposed to actual experts, the more I discover that there are many people much more knowledgeable than I. If I think I'm really good, that actually just means I *might* be better, in some ways, than the people I talk to - thinking I'm good just means I'm failing to learn from people who are better.

I strongly suspect those who are humble are the people who read the work of Knuth, T'so, Engelschall, etc - the really programmers know they aren't the best.

Comment The law is written. You can read it not imagine it (Score 1) 59

The laws are written down. You can read them, rather than making something up out of thin air and deciding to believe it. I've copy-pastes it for you below. You'll notice flying is NOT illegal - flying over someone's house is very much NOT covered by the "peeping tom" section because that would make air travel nearly impossible.

As I recall 46 or 47 states use this wording:
(11)âfor a lewd or unlawful purpose:
(A)âenters on the property of another and looks into a dwelling on the property through any window or other opening in the dwelling;
(B)âwhile on the premises of a hotel or comparable establishment, looks into a guest room not the person's own through a window or other opening in the room; âor
(C)âwhile on the premises of a public place, looks into an area such as a restroom or shower stall or changing or dressing room that is designed to provide privacy to a person using the area.

For a civil tort (suing someone for money) it pretty much comes down to a "reasonable expectation of privacy". Generally, there is no "reasonable expectation of privacy" outdoors. (With rare exceptions). Even if there is a fence, you know planes fly overhead, small planes and helicopters fly low. Therefore you can't reasonably expect that a small plane won't fly over and get an overhead view of your yard. (Quite to the chagrin of many a marijuana grower).

Comment No, that's not illegal, in public. Same as driving (Score 1) 59

Peeping Tom would be looking in someone's windows.

Driving down the street, or sitting at a bus stop, and seeing people walk by in public isn't illegal. There's no invasion of privacy because there is no privacy out in public. Flying 200 feet overhead and seeing people walking down the sidewalk isn't illegal any more than driving down the street and seeing people. Sitting behind a bush also is not illegal in the United States. If you want privacy, go inside.

If you're extra paranoid, you might think about a "drone" hovering outside your window. *That* would be illegal, and very loud. I have a small "drone" (toy quadcopter) and I can easily hear it from 200-300 yards away.

Comment National gun registry has some privacy (Score 1) 59

Another area with registration ensures that the information about a specific gun is available to law enforcement following proper procedures, but the database can never be leaked in masse, causing the issues that would entail.

Each manufacturer (seperately) has a list of which distributor they sold it to. Each distributor has a list of which wholesaler they sold it to. Each wholesaler has a list of which retailer they sold it to. Each retailer has a list of the end-purchaser they sold it to.

A law enforcement officer following procedure who finds a gun (or toy RC helicopter?) can get the owner's name with five phone calls. So if you want to know about a specific gun (or suspicious toy?), it takes 10-15 minutes to get the information. You can't get a list of *everybody* who bought guns, though (not without going to each individual retailer).

Comment No, here's the suit - Plaintiff: Costco (Score 1) 244

I'll never quite understand why people make stuff up out of thin air, then proceed to "correct" those who actually have the facts. Here's the complaint initiating the suit:

You may notice right on the top of the page:

CORPORATION, a Washington
Delaware corporation,

"Plaintiff" means "the person who is suing". Defendant means "the person who is getting sued".

Comment Only for a 5 seconds (Score 1) 307

The proposed runway has a circumference of 6 miles. Meaning it turns by 60 degrees per mile.

A 747 lands at about 160 MPH and has a minimum runway length of 9,743 feet (1.85 miles). If a 747 touched down headed north into the wind, it would be headed southeast as it completed the landing, and the headwind at touchdown would become a 90 degree crosswind while the plane was travelling about 80 MPH.

Approaching the runway at 160 MPH while turning sharply, the apparent wind direction would change 90 degrees every 30 seconds.

Comment Re:No money for you, dissident! (Score 1) 76

This is pretty much the point. There is a huge difference between trying to incite people to commit violence against people and stating an opinion. The question is whether that difference will be considered. "Kill all infidels!" must not be on the same level as "I disagree with what you said and here is why I think you're wrong".

Judging by the development in other social media I cannot say with good faith that I can trust this to be the case.

Comment Farm Equipment and how patents once worked... (Score 5, Insightful) 244

I look out the window of my building from my cubicle and see a little sliver of Grant Park on Chicago's lake front to the south. On the other side of Grant Park lies Soldier's Field and McCormick Place.

McCormick Place is named after "Colonel" Robert McCormick, staunch anti FDR Republican and owner of the Chicago Tribune. Colonel McCormick was one of the heirs of the fortune made by Cyrus McCormick selling the McCormick reaper.

The reaper was patented. Obed Hussey had patented a reaper as well. They fought in court over the patents, but both were sold for many years under the separate patents. Obed ended up with the "most" ownership of the design, but they were not exactly alike.

Think about the old saying: "Build a better mouse trap, and the world will beat a path to your door."

As a matter of fact, Massey Ferguson, John Deere, Alice Chalmers and many others made reapers, harvesters, tillers, bailers and many more patented farm equipment. Each performed the same functions, but each did it in a slightly different way. They each were building better mouse traps, not the same one. The US constitution supports patents in section 8:

"To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries."

The purpose must be to promote, not hinder, the "Progress of Science" and "useful Arts". Temporary, and exclusive, rights "to their respective" creations are granted. Not all creations that perform the same function are protected against, but the ones that do it the way you made it work. If someone else makes a golf ball that is different than your golf ball, they get their patent and you get yours. In this way the 'useful Arts' are promoted. "Build a better golf ball and the golfers will beat a path to your door" has become "and the lawyers will beat a path to the Court."

We have come almost 180 (degrees) in patent law from the simple language of the Constitution. Patents should protect an individual, specific design, and those very close to that specific design. However, they should not hinder novel designs. That would be against what the constitution authorizes. Also they must be time limited, or innovation will be destroyed. Manufacturers often tweak products and file for a new patents, then use the current broad, not specific, reach of patent law to hinder innovative competition.

The current interpretation of patent, and copyright, law clearly is in opposition to the clear language of the constitution. We arrived at where we are through multiple small steps, small interpretations of the law that have us now applying laws that grant broad reaching and almost never ending rights. The current state of the law, as interpreted through the lens of many years of collective case law, hinders innovation, competition and free enterprise.

Comment Computers don't beat physics (nearly 1G turn, cros (Score 1) 307

> A computer doesn't give a shit if the runway is straight or curved, because it can handle a little more left (or whatever) while it's managing dozens of other things.

It's not "a little more left", it's nearly a 1G turn at the proposed dimensions - about the maximum turn rate an airliner will ever do outside of test flights.

Just as important, probably, it would mean rolling the broad side of the wings into a cross wind. This is hard to explain in words, but imagine the wind is coming from the left. With a normal, straight runway, the wings are level, so the plane looks like this:
The wind doesn't hit the wings much. But if to make a sharp turn, we need to bank the wings at 45 degrees or so:


You can see a wind from the left (or right) will exert a MUCH stronger force on the plane, blowing it off course. Software can't magically fix that. It may or may not manage to crash softer than a human pilot would manage.

Comment Is it just branding or is it a real patent issue? (Score 1) 244

These days, almost every single small consumer product is made in China or similar countries. Factories turn out the same electronics for Apple, Lenovo, Dell, etc. and the only differentiation is the case and branding. It wouldn't surprise me if there were one or two massive golf ball factories turning out millions of balls a month, and just slapping the Titleist or Nike or Kirkland Signature logo on a slightly differentiated design. This happens a lot in electronics too -- Cisco's contract manufacturers sell non-official Cisco gear all the time at a cut-rate price; same exact specs but no support if Cisco finds out.

In the consumer space, this reminds me of businesses like Dollar Shave Club or similar. If you buy fancy razors and razor blades from Gillette or Schick or whatever, you'll pay insane prices even in bulk for an extremely basic consumer good. The question is whether or not the cheaper substitute good really is directly stealing patented designs. Companies do have to make money back on their research -- I guess the question is how much of a golf ball design really is a trade secret.

It also speaks volumes about the "power of brands." People will happily pay Apple multiples of what their devices are worth just to have an Apple product. BMW owners pay through the nose for their cars, then pay through the nose again to get them fixed just because they're proprietary and expensive. I don't really care where my razor blades or golf balls come from, but I'm sure there are rabid Titleist fans out there too who would never be caught dead with Costco balls. I'm actually surprised that there's a market for cheap golf balls given how much disposable income you need to have to play golf these days. You need to belong to a country club, buy thousands of dollars worth of equipment, and have hours of free time at your disposal, something most people don't have.

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Machines take me by surprise with great frequency. - Alan Turing