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Comment No more feeling sorry for Sony (Score 2, Informative) 165

Those who'd like to all the objections, as well as a much smaller number of filings in support, can find them at The Public Index, which is run by the New York Law School:
Filings in opposition tend to be substantial and weighty, citing both U.S. and international copyright law. Filings in favor tend to be of the "Gee, I like free books" sort. The most substantial of them is probably that from Sony, which is 20 pages long and filed by a NYC law firm, but, with one exception, it doesn't deal with the issues of copyright. Here's the closest Sony comes to admitting that authors have rights.
"The non-exclusivity provision of the Settlement--which makes plain that that the right given to Google do not permit copyright holders or the Registry itself from licensing e-book right to others--ensure that healthy, price-driven competition will remain after the Settlement is approved."
Yes, you read it right. The Google settlement gives Google and Google alone the right to display online for profit the contents of any book first published anywhere in the world since 1922 without the author's knowledge or consent unless they formally opted out by last Friday, September 4, 2009. Just heard about that? Tough luck. You've been screwed by Google with Sony's warm approval.
And to add insult to considerable injury, Google and Sony purr that Google's right is non-exclusive. What does that mean? Having brushed aside an author's copyright, they say, "Oh, well. We don't care if you sell someone else the right to publish your book. That is, if that someone else can compete with free." Under copyright law, of course, Google has no right to publish a book at all without the author's permission. They have no rights at all, much less exclusive rights. That's a good indication of ethically and legally clueless Google and Sony are.
Until I read this document, I felt sorry for Sony. They used to be so popular, now that aren't. But it helps to remember that much of their failure came from an obsession with protecting the copyrighted music they own. Now, in their zeal to sell their ebook readers, they're helping Google stomp on the copyright of several million authors. Color them hypocrites, very big hypocrites.
I no longer feel sorry for Sony. If they languish in obscurity, they're only getting what they deserve. Sony can't zealous defend their own copyrights by every nasty means available and run roughshod over the copyrights of others without deservedly getting sneered at.
The basic premise of the Google settlement is that any book not "commercially available" is effectively out of copyright. How would Sony feel if music fans regarded any music not available commercially at the moment as effectively out of copyright? That's what we are talking about here.

Comment Ticked off (Score 2, Interesting) 521

Apple has got me so ticked off, I'll probably put my energy into getting a 1-G iPhone cheap and forget buying these ho-hum iPod touches. That way, Apple won't get a penny and I'll probably save money.
I need a camera, and I need a mike and I don't want to pay AT&T fees. I also need them soon. I thought I would get that in the new touches. Instead, Apple is giving the tiny Nano more features but not the iPod touch. Why? With that tiny 2.2-inch Nano screen you can't see much of what you've taken and the equally tiny battery isn't likely to last long in video mode.
What's going on? If Apple has production problems with camera-equipped touches, they should say so, give us the details of new touch, and a release date. This cult of secrecy is such a pain. You'd think they were the Kremlin circa 1935. Both have a cult-like obsession with not admitting mistakes.
Still worse is the possibility that Apple wants to build high walls between its products, doling out features in odd ways to fit a marketing straight-jacket. The iPhone would be for work and business for those with the money. The touch is for games but not recreation, hence the lack of a camera and the boring length of game promotion today. Color touch users fat and flabby couch potatoes. The Nano is for mostly outdoor recreation (camera and Nike added), but has nothing that lets you get work done. If so, it's stupid move.
To add insult to injury, I just checked the specs on the new touches. The 8 gig model ships with the old-style earphones not the remote earphones and without a plastic dock adapter. Total saving for Apple? Probably about 25 to 50 cents. Cost to customers who don't want to pull their touch out of their pocket every time they pause music: $30 That stinks. Heck, even the cheap little $59 Shuttle ships with remote earphones. While Jobs was gone, the niggling little bean counters seem to have been running Apple. This is the unfortunate result.
I hate companies that treat their customers as if they were stupid, and that's precisely how I feel Apple is treating its customers now.

Comment A Bad Idea Made Worse (Score 5, Insightful) 174

I'd agree with Bluestone's remarks and add some of my own.

First, an always running updater is a security hole of the first order. Gain access to it, and someone malicious could do anything it could do, meaning alter applications without our knowledge.

Second, there's in this the now-typical Google 'we rule the world' attitude in this--much like that at Microsoft fifteen years ago. Why should Goggle applications has an always running updater while other don't? Not even Apple makes that sort of demands and OS X is one heck of a lot more important to a Mac than anything Google might do.

Third, CmdrTaco is being naive if he thinks open sourcing an abomination leads to the "obvious conclusion" that it's to be trusted. He forgets that the danger lies in the code that's being downloaded, not the code that is doing the downloading. It's the idea itself that's bad not the implementation.

Finally, what does Google intend this open sourcing to do? Do they want every application on our computer to have an auto-update-without-asking running continually in the background? Bad as what Google is doing, that'd be an even worse horror. And like Google, they're not likely to tell us what they're doing.

I believe it was the philosopher Kant who offered as a moral test the question, "What would the world be like if everyone did this?" One person lying doesn't usually do much harm. Everyone lying would make life almost unbearable.

Having every application behaving like Google's would be an utter disaster. Open-sourcing Google's code makes as much sense as marketing a "Do It Yourself A-Bomb Kit" in the Middle East. The malicious genie is out of the bottle. Now we have to consider the possibility that every obscure application we download contains Google's dastardly code. A seemingly benign application could mutate on command into a monster. And because it spreads any time we're online, it could spread like wildfire. Google doesn't even seem to have been thinking when they came up with open-sourcing their monster.

What the Greeks called hubris, overweening pride, has struck again. Google has replaced Microsoft as the giant, high-tech business that seems most clueless about the distinction between good and evil, sensible and foolish. They censored the Internet for China, they claimed to own every book not in print, and now they want to determine what's on our computers without our consent and without our knowledge.

Comment An Interesting Historical Link (Score 5, Interesting) 150

This is very interesting. I worked at Eglin AFB from 1966-68, part of that time at a radar site (A-20) that provided radar tracking during the Mercury and Gemini projects. One of our FPS-16 radars would take up the track of a spacecraft from a radar at White Sands and pass it on to one at Cape Kennedy. During reentry into the Atlantic, our track was particularly important because the craft was often so far into reentry that the on-board beacon was difficult to track by the time it appeared over the horizon for Cape Kennedy.

A few weeks before each mission, NASA would put the upper stage of an Atlas into orbit, so the range could practice by skin tracking it (no beacon transmitter responding). The NASA crew chief told me, with quite a bit of pride, of one such launch, where on the first orbit the radar in Africa, Australia, Hawaii (I believe) and White Sands couldn't pick up that upper stage. The radar at A-20 not only picked it up, it picked it up as it broke over the radar horizon some 1200 miles. out.

Now to the interesting part. We had an Ampex video recorder (S/N 32) in a back wall in data processing that, as best I can remember, looked precisely like the one they're using to recover that long-ago data. We used it only occasionally to capture radar data during ECM missions. I can't recall it ever being used during a NASA mention though. What mattered then was the digital position data, which with an FPS-16 is extremely accurate.

That said, it would be interesting if a historical link did exist a USAF radar site used by NASA and the recorder now being used to recover that data.

There's a more detailed account of recovering this data at:

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