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Comment Re:Beware (Score 1) 72

I doubt a bank would loan $300 million to Trump (or anyone on the private sector) without a lien on the property in question to cover the $300 million. So Trump owes $300 million, and the bank owes its interest in the lien. So where does Trump have an incentive to help (or attack) DB against the public interest? He still has his $300 million, and the lien will be held by DB, or somebody, no matter what he does.

The knee-jerk reaction here is to draw a parallel with unsecured loans given as disguised bribes. (For example, the absence of margin calls during Hillary's cattle futures trading...sure is handy to have the Clintons around to provide a ready example for every form of corruption known to man.) It isn't the loan, it is the absence of collateral that constitutes the bribe.

Comment Re:Makes it sound like a bad thing? (Score 1) 74

Another way is to run Windows in a VM. Dual-booting sorta assumes you use both OS's about the same amount, and don't switch frequently between. I would submit Linux users who need Windows need it for That One Thing (e.g. Outlook, or some employer-specific program) and are better served by running Win as a guest OS. Conversely, in my experience, Windows users' need for Linux is often driven by some development environment (often for some chipset devkit) and run a Linux VM for that. To me, the only reason to boot Windows is access to OEM-supported drivers (and then Windows just becomes a driver layer, with security problems, for my Linux VM), so therefore, once the hardware supports Linux, I can't think of any reason to run Win on the bare metal.

Comment Re:Selling at a loss (Score 1) 220

is it really so bad to only have 12% of the market when you're the only ones making any money?

In the short-term it is just fine. In the longer term, not so much. I am reminded of the 90's when the Mac's 9% marketshare was about the same as Gateway, but they made 5 times as much profit. That didn't last long and after a few years Apple had to install Microsoft's godawful browser at the factory in exchange for a stock-for-cash infusion. The Mac never saved us from MS hegemony; Linux servers and web-apps did. What will save us from Google hegemony?

Comment Re:That's great (Score 1) 89

Heh, even the "edit" command in later versions of MS-DOS could handle line endings correctly when Notepad could not. (It was a pain to navigate the Windows directory structure in an 80-column screen though.) Notepad was so bad, I would sometimes have to open a DOS box just to use its editor. I am sure there is a joke about the "edlin" command here, but that's not funny!

Comment Re:MeeGo exclusive (Score 1) 289

You jest, of course, but MeeGo phones did have Nokia's Ovi store (and its payment system) to buy apps and songs. It was never supported in the US (I had to claim I was British) and Microsoft shut it all down as part of their multi-billion dollar program to take over Nokia and flush everything good down the toilet.

Comment Re:What exactly are they doing with it? (Score 1) 62

I wouldn't use the "proof of work" but rather signatures of trusted parties,

Is there a term-of-art for this blockchain-verified-by-syndicate? With it, just about any group can become their own bankers (not totally trustless like Bitcoin, but just a small amount that is easy to maintain small group), I have been wondering how long it will be before a drug cartel issues a cryptocurrency, backed by drugs instead of gold, and verified by signature servers on a darknet. It would probably be more functional than some of these South American government currencies. Then Scarface could dump his crooked bankers after all, and be the banker, raking in money without having to do any actual work.

Comment Re:dust (Score 1) 290

The internal layout of those ROM cartridges is really simple. I knew a guy back in the 90's who would whip up embedded systems by burning a 27256 EPROM chip (the ones with windows on them so you can erase with UV light) and popping it into a DIP socket. The way I remember it, the BASIC interpreter is available in C=64 assembly language, but the BASIC ROM uses up some of the address space (blocking access to some RAM), so most programs bank-switch it off. My guess is you would have to have a stub of assembly to invoke the interpreter, and then have the BASIC code as a hunk of data. Another way to do it is to just write a BASIC program and use an "Action Replay" (a simple in-circuit emulator) to make a snapshot of the machine's state, and then burn that to ROM.

Comment Re:Seems reasonable to sell a product (Score 1) 238

Ok, it's not really Microsoft selling copies of Windows when a consumer buys a computer at retail. The consumer is buying a copy of Windows from Dell (for example), and Dell is licensed to re-sell Windows. The distinction is not important to my point, which is this: The consumer enters into a transaction whose appearance and nature is that of a sale of chattel goods. When he offers cash for the purchase, he is within his rights to expect to fully own what he paid for. (This follows from the fact that consumers live in a world where simple sales transactions are the norm, and customized contracts of sale are not.) A EULA places encumbrances on the consumer's ownership that, due the the asymmetrical nature of how EULAs are formulated, are beyond that which is reasonable for ordinary consumers to understand, The goods were misrepresented; to sell them that way constitutes fraud. (Strictly speaking, Dell is committing fraud, but doing so under contractual obligation with MS. Getting Dell to do the dirty work makes MS a conspirator to fraud.)

I suppose EFF could come up with a industry-uniform EULA, though I would think they have bigger fish to fry. We sort of have that with the GPL. I wouldn't have any problem with a software vendor using the GPL as a EULA.

This reasoning applies to mass-marketed merchandise. I don't have a problem with arbitrary EULAs for bespoke-coded software projects, nor the licensing terms MS makes with Dell (except, of course, for the part where they conspire to defraud consumers). The problem occurs when we have asymmetrical lawyering; the solution is the first sale doctrine (or, alternately, uniform contracts produced through a process that properly represents consumers' interests).

Comment Re:Seems reasonable to sell a product (Score 1) 238

Oh, I am not defending taxi licensure; local governments have taken the simple need to "regulate and make uniform" commercial activity with some simple rules (If you offer services at a published rate, you must do so in a non-discriminatory fashion) and turned it into a giant rent-seeking scheme. A have to disagree with your assessment of the facts, though: Microsoft very much does want to sell Windows at Best Buy (and every other random retail channel); they want to do so as part of a bundle. It certainly is to Microsoft's advantage to have OEM's take cash for their products in sale as chattel goods (and bundled together in arbitrary combinations as is the right of someone selling chattel goods). My claim is that is it bad policy to allow them to do so without holding them to the first sale doctrine.

I suppose a case can be made that the software business is mature enough now that a uniform EULA can be put in place, much like the "uniform contract of carriage" you get with an airline ticket. That avoids the asymmetrical lawyering that has heretofore gone into EULAs; the industry and consumers negotiate en masse (ideally as private sector organizations but usually this happens through the political process) the terms of a uniform EULA without one side spending, literally, a million times as much effort as the other. The most successful example of this is the GPL.

On a final note, I would point out that a truly free market wouldn't have copyrights at all. Attacking restrictions on EULAs and software bundling on free-market grounds is a bit spurious. It's not for nothing that RMS dislikes the term "intellectual property".

Comment Re:Seems reasonable to sell a product (Score 1) 238

This gets into the legal weeds a bit, but freedom of contract, in the classical sense, assumes a proper negotiation process before entering the deal. There are all kinds of contracts that are prohibited due to time constraints, situations of duress, or asymmetrical information. We don't allow taxi drivers to triple their rates when a rider appears to be suffering a heart attack and needs a ride to the hospital (a freely negotiated rate, eh?). We prohibit sharecropping (bundling seed-corn purchases, land rents, and debt financing together in an exploitive way). In most cases, we don't allow drug-makers to transfer liability for poisonous contaminants to the consumer. For common transactions where the rules of an ordinary don't sale apply (airfares, amusement tickets, and car rentals for example) we have contracts that are uniform industry-wide. And yes, we have the "first sale doctrine" where a transaction that has the nature and appearance of a sale necessarily exhausts the seller's copyright interests.

If Microsoft wants the benefits that come from mass merchandising, they should be required to play by the rules of mass-merchandising. Instead, they want to treat a retail purchase at Best Buy like a Wall Street finance deal by inserting a click-license after the fact. This faux-contract is replicated millions of times for Microsoft (and therefore they can spend millions on legal fees crafting the language to advance their interests) but is seen only once by the consumer, who if competent to understand it at all, has a much smaller stake and can't afford to invest much effort into it. In the end, the consumer is confused and swindled. That isn't freedom of contract, that is fraud.

Comment Re:Seems reasonable to sell a product (Score 1) 238

Some of them appear to be parted out from a machine, but they sell bundled with hardware (usually a hard drive) to evade corporate lawyers. Therefore this is not evidence that consumers have won back their legal rights due to them for having paid cash for chattel goods, but rather an indication that Ebay has become infiltrated with black markets.

Comment Re:Seems reasonable to sell a product (Score 5, Insightful) 238

That points up the technical barriers to treating pre-installed software as chattel goods. True that, but even if you solve that technically, my point is that you are legally enjoined from re-selling or re-purposing the software. So, when it comes to bundled sales, the interpretation (that we have chattel goods) favors Microsoft's business interest at the expense of the consumer, but when it comes to parting out and re-sale, a conflicting interpretation (that we don't have chattel goods, but rather, a license) favors Microsoft's business interest at the expense of the consumer.

The terms of the agreement have been altered, pray that the corporate lawyers don't alter them further [insert Darth Vader breath here].

Comment Re:Common sense (Score 1) 74

You don't have to assume upgrades to have benefits from modular construction. CPU chips remained socketed long after CPU upgrades became exceedingly rare simply because CPU and motherboards had different product lifecycles, and some systems could be GPU-heavy with a cheap CPU, while others CPU-heavy, without needing separate MB designs. If you look at AV equipment, you can buy an integrated unit--no messing with cables but now that obsolete 30-pin ipod dock just sits there looking stupid--or a modular system with whatever unusual features you need (XM radio or a phonograph player). Modular phones of this sort (if they ever get the standards worked out right) would first appear in weird edge-cases: a re-implementation of Garmin's GPS-whose-antenna-doesn't-suck combo with phone, or cameraphone-whose-lens-aperture-doesn't-suck, or satphone combo, or phone with an RJ45 (a modern Zaurus), or hiker's phone with 3-week-battery-who-cares-if-its-1-inch-thick, etc. We already see a bit of this with the Square credit card reader to make phone-as-point-of-sale-device.

Comment Amiga profitability (Score 1) 205

Can't speak to the other systems (so this doesn't really invalidate your larger point), but I have to dispel the common misconception that the Amiga was anything but profitable to the end of its days. Commodore went under due to losses from the PC clone business, and Amiga production shut down when suppliers stopped delivering parts. Near the end, Amigas shipped with dealer-installed hard-drives (paid for in cash) since HD makers were among the first to get stiffed with delinquent invoices. I would posit that, under better management, the Amiga platform could have survived and have a market position similar to the Mac today.

There is a reason Amigans are so bitter about how that went down.

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