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Comment Re:Opposing country's bills (Score 1) 207

What we actually need is:
US law: US companies may not comply with russian backdoor requests; nor may they withdraw service from russian citizens. In other words, for a company headquartered in the US, it must be illegal for the US arm to fail to protect russian citizens from russian law. And then the 3 symmetric permutations.

Comment Re:This is Google's main problem... (Score 5, Interesting) 131

I completely agree. I had a problem where our new company couldn't send email to Gmail users without always being flagged as spam. We were doing absolutely everything right - and there is no way to get hold of Google. I did finally, 6 months later find a way to reach a person at Google (via a back channel as a customer of a different company), and they confirmed to me: Google act as judge, jury, and executioner, in a secret trial; you can't see the evidence, you don't even know if you've been condemned, and there is no appeal. And they are fine with that.
For what it's worth, the problem was that the previous owners of our IP had got it into a secret blacklist (internal to Google), although we were clean on all of the hundreds of public blacklists I searched. Google are a menace to the public infrastructure. Even AOL behave better!

Comment LED lighting that flickers (Score 1) 508

It's so easy to include the smoothing capacitor - but so many LED lights strobe at 50/60 Hz. This produces a really unpleasant effect, especially if people move about (or simply move their eyes). LEDs are far worse than tungsten here, because the LED is usually on for only a very small fraction of the duty-cycle, has no thermal inertia, and many of them only operate on one half-cycle not both. When LED lamps are dimmed, it's truly horrid. (I also hate the poor colour rendering, and the tendency to get harsh ("cool-white") or dirty-grey ("warm white") llight rather than a full spectrum.

Comment bring back full height 4:3 screens (Score 1) 508

It is frustrating to me that we now have "shortscreens" everywhere - instead of full-height screens (e.g. 20" at 1600x1200), we now have 16:9 (and no doubt 16:7 in due course). For real work, whether programming, CAD, or just reading webpages and documents, there is no substitute for screen-height. Yet a combination of the DVD-tail wagging the productivity dog, and a dishonest marketing campaign (17" widescreens have less area than 17" regular screens) means that we can't get decent screens anywhere. For desktops this is just about tolerable with the advent of very very large 16:10 screens, but for laptops, it is a nightmare.

Comment Re:Why do browsers allow websites to do this? (Score 1) 365

There are a couple of legitimate uses for sites to interfere, with select/copy in certain very restricted cases.
1. Using the no-select attribute on buttons (or text styled as buttons). Otherwise, it's very easy to accidentally select the button text when you mean to click it - and that's just a UI mistake.
2. When an image is meant not to be re-shared (e.g, a personal photo on a social or dating network), intercepting right-click with a message asking the viewer not to take a copy.

Comment TuxRacer controlled by Tux (Score 1) 258

A friend's kid aged about 3 used to love playing the game TuxRacer (controlled by arrow keys, which Dad had to work because he wasn't dextrous enough). So I got a plush Tux toy penguin, and fastened him on top of a small plastic box, in which I placed the guts of a wireless keyboard, and 4x tilt switches connected to the arrow keys. Now simply moving the penguin controls the game :-)

Comment Re:Let's hope that Plasma 4 is kept as an alternat (Score 2) 60

At least Plasma doesn't just silently crash for you - on my Ubuntu 15.04 system, it just dies and dumps me back at the login screen (and there doesn't seem to be any way to debug it, nothing in .xsession errors, and no answers on the bug report). I find it totally bewildering that KDE4 -> KDE5 should do this, after they have just about recovered reputationally and stability-wise from the KDE 3 -> 4 mess (and 4 still hasn't completely reached parity with 3 in some ways). The bump to KDE5 should have been like Linux kernel 3.x to Linux 4.x - a total non-event for the users, i.e.only the Qt library changed, and basically nothing else did.

Anyway, you can at least install the KDE 3.5 fork ( has packages) on Ubuntu 15.04, and I'm pleased to say it works pretty well. In fact, it is also significantly prettier (from the perspective of those of us who value clarity over smoothness, and are quite partial to icons that are distinct from one another, and to having nice sharp lines and contrasts to distinguish bits of the GUI from each other). The other option is to look at Mate (apt-get install mate-desktop), which is basically Gnome 2.x, continued (though they are doing the sensible thing and using the Gnome 3 project's libraries)

One good thing about Linux is that the Window Manager is distinct from the rest of the applications. So, you can mix and match window-manager, taskbar, start-button, panel, file-manager, applications. XFCE4 isn't a bad place to start (and parcellite is an alternative to klipper).

Comment Re:It would be nice if... the key leaked (Score 1) 155

What really got Lenovo into hot water was not just Superfish, but that Superfish got compromised. So, what we really need is for the NSA's stolen key to be leaked.
If that key leaks, it will finally cause the massive that will force the politicians to re-evaluate what the miscreants in GCHQ/NSA are "lawfully" doing.

Comment Re:Free Trade (Score 1) 222

What I mean is that, any country which has no democracy has no workers' rights. Therefore, Chinese workers will never effectively demand decent working conditions. This makes them more competitive than the EU/US, and our workers (who rightly expect decent treatment) will be out-competed by cheap labour from contries that abuse their workers. The result is unemployment in the West, and "slave"-labour in the East.

Comment Free Trade (Score 1) 222

If China blocks US VPNs (our exports), why isn't the US considering blocking Chinese goods in return?
If nothing else, it is our own long-term best interests to force China to become more free, as it is the only thing that will prevent them winning a race-to-the-bottom competition on wages.

Comment Re:Because it does not work (Score 1) 219

I grant that it doesn't work all the time. But let's at least stop giving "it's my faith" a free pass against criticism, and be done with the faith-schools. Politicians love to think that moderate religion is on their side; it isn't. So they work in the (imho) vain struggle to keep people from moving from position (b) to (c) rather than trying to get them to move from (b) to (a). In epidemiological terms, there are several risk factors for becoming a terrorist... including social exclusion, poverty, grievances against western policy, and religious faith. Why can't we treat faith itself (rather than "perversion of faith") as the risk factor?

Comment Re:Why not promote the Enlightenment instead (Score 1) 219

True in the US, but in Europe, we are already past tipping point: the majority of people now see organised religion as a force for harm.

In the US, the approach might be to apply sanctions to Saudi Arabia etc untill they fix their human rights record - this approach worked on South Africa wrt apartheid.

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