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Comment Lopsided interests -- I don't have much hope (Score 3, Interesting) 143

  1. It is highly unlikely that consumers will make a big effort to lobby for the public's interest, and
  2. It is highly likely that the parties representing the copyright holders will expend enormous efforts and money to try and strengthen/extend/etc. copyrights.

The public is large, poorly organized and difficult to motivate to make a stand on copyrights. Essentially the problem is that changing copyrights don't fundamentally change the lives of most people. For the general public this is a problem somewhat similar to the Tragedy of the Commons, in that the common man doesn't really benefit much from his own efforts, but rather from the collective efforts of all common men, which is only marginally reduced by him being lazy and not doing anything. Unfortunately, this is true of all common men and the result is a tendency to be apathetic.

For the copyright holders, the situation is reversed. There is a relatively small set of major copyright holders, they are well organized and well funded. With the clock ticking on their valuable assets, they are highly motivated to attempt to squeeze more out of the system, and their own efforts are likely to change their own bottom line. They stand to gain (or better said, not lose) vast amounts of money when copyright terms are extended, and are therefore willing to spend lots on lobbying, public relations and other activities to influence politicians.

In the middle we have the copyright extension opponents only hope: the various public and private organizations. They, unfortunately, tend to be underfunded compared to the copyright holders. Their task is to motivate the public, to donate money or lobby their politicians. Most of the public, as previously stated, are not really bothered by copyrights.

The more likely scenario, in my opinion, is that industry lobbying will ultimately be successful (perhaps after numerous attempts) and copyright term will become, for practical purposes, unlimited. Draconian laws will probably be implemented for copyright infringers. However, most of the public won't really care and will continue to illegally share films, music and other copyright content. The legal system will not make (in fact, will not be able to make) a sufficient effort to combat the problem, as the politicians probably don't think they will have to keep their promises to the industry in the long-term. There may also be a backlash from the judicial system and the public about the appropriateness of the effort and money spent on copyright infringers vs. other priorities.

The result will be, more or less, the mess we currently have.

There is an extremely small chance that there will be a small number of content providers who get it and realize that a new business model is required that is not based on trying to to maintain a legal lock on content. If they get enough of a foothold in the market, which will require overpowering the powerful Hollywood cartels (e.g. TV, movie and music distribution), this could a massive shift in the way content is marketed. This is more likely to happen in the book industry, as there less of a lock on the distribution channels, and we are seeming a gradual increase in self-publishing.

Comment It's not just containers that get lost (Score 2) 163

I've seen a statistic somewhere, I think it was from Lloyds, which states that, on average, one ship gets lost per day somewhere in the world (I believe it included hijacking and piracy) . These are mostly small ships, but given that an occasional container ship goes missing, I wonder how many of the containers are lost due to entire ships sinking.

I also wonder how much theft and smuggling contributes to the number of 'lost' containers

Submission + - How to turn off SlashTweets? 1

ahodgkinson writes: SlashTweets should be optional.

It's ruining Slashdot experience and I'd like to disable it. Please explain how this can be done.

Thank you!

Comment Linux costs went up or MS costs when down? (Score 1) 901

As the article states, until we see numbers it is difficult to see what is going on.

The is a lot at stake here for Microsoft. If the project were successful, then it would open the floodgates for lots of similar efforts, and could even break Microsoft's monopoly on the desktop. Thus, Microsoft is obviously hoping that this project fails. Conspiracies aside, one way to help the transition back to Windows is to lower prices, offer special deals, free services, etc. I wouldn't surprise if this happened.

It could also be that the required device compatibility imposed a big programming cost, and it really did cost more than expected. I'm curious to learn if that cost could be amortized over larger/more government departments.

Let's get the full facts first before we judge.

Comment I'm not giving them my data! (Score 5, Insightful) 396

Cloud? I'll keep my cloud in the local data center, meaning that I'd rather make the extra effort to serve/manage/backup my data myself.

The occasional outages and stories of lost mail archives of some very large providers make me worry. Frankly, I don't trust the Cloud providers to be stable enough over the long-term. Companies merge, get bought, go bust, etc., and any of these events could cause a temporary or permanent service disruption, terms of usage policy change, security problem, total loss of data, etc. If you move your data to the cloud, then you must accept that you are giving up a great deal of control. You must consider how mission critical the data is, how you are going to make/keep backups, the cost of losing access temporarily/permanently, etc.

For some types of data, this may not be a problem. But, for me, the Cloud is just too flaky for the type of data I'd like to store in it. Would you be comfortable if your Cloud data got given to Wikileaks, or, worse, to some criminal organization. Your provider might not even tell (or even know) you if this occurs, especially since they are not legally required to in may countries. Call me paranoid, but disgruntled employees of large corporations can do bad things; and you have no control over how those employees are vetted or treated. Your provider might be fine now, but what happens when the provider is bought by say, Walmart, and costs get cut to the bone.

I realize my date center won't scale as nicely as, say, Amazon's, but I'm not (yet) prepared to let someone else be responsible for the safety and security of MY data.

Comment Moore's law is not a law (Score 3, Insightful) 214

Moore made an observation that processing power on microprocessor chips would double every 18 months, and later adjusted the observation to be a doubling every two years. There was no explanation of causality.

At best it is a self-fulfilling prophesy, as the 'law' is now used as a standard for judging the industry, which strives to keep up with the predictions.

Comment My (pinhole) camera is a shipping container (Score 1) 342

Well, not my camera, but that of Andrea Good in Switzerland, who has been using a 40-foot shipping containers as a pinhole cameras. The basic concept is to make a hole in the side of the container and paper the inside wall opposite the hole with photo paper. Then you wait a few days or weeks to expose the film.

The Chinese artist Shi Guorui has also does this, using not only shipping containers, but also large rooms.

Here's a link for more information:

Comment Re:Remember -- yep I do.. (Score 1) 267

Yep, you hit the nail on the head. Production schedules required the 'conceptual' artwork to be done weeks in advance of the completion of the software.

I don't know what it was like at Parker Borthers, but Atari (we supplied game software and hardware design to them) got marketing people heavily involved. They were typically fresh out of some MBA mill and no understanding of the their target audience (apart from being given 'focus group' results) and little interest in video games beyond concerns about them being hits. I'm sure this helped widen the gap between the artwork and the way the game actually looked. It certainly helped drive Atari into the ground, as the titles got stupider and stupider, leading to the infamous Atari land fill.

Comment People's expectations were realistic (Score 5, Interesting) 267

Given that the Atari 2600 hardware only had 128 BYTES of RAM and that the entire game had to fit into a 2048 BYTE cartridge (later there were bank-switching cartridges with 4KB), it's amazing that the 2600 games had recognizable graphics at all.

As to the box artwork: I remember programmers commenting on the nice box artwork, but there was never any mention about how it didn't match the game. Like someone else said, it was like looking at a cover of a science fiction book, knowing that the contents were probably very different.

To put things into perspective: Back in those days pinball machines were still popular and people expectations of computer games were pretty realistic, e.g. rather low. The IBM AT and XT had just come out, and were targeted at businesses and considered too expensive for the normal household. Graphical user interfaces only existed in research labs and universities. Coin operated video games had much better (and much more expensive) hardware, as compared to the home versions. The home systems had to be less sophisticated, otherwise they would have been too expensive for their target market.

I used to program these things and remember late night sessions pouring over hex dumps trying to recover a byte or two. The initial programming was done in 6502 assembler (to keep the cost down the CPU packed in a 28-pin DIP, which allowed for all sorts of tricks for saving bytes by addressing memory in unconventional ways). The last few weeks of the programming was typically done in hex, looking for opcode sequences that could be used as data. E.g. we spent our time hand optimizing the hex code. Sometimes we found enough space to put in a new feature or two.

Now nearly 30 years later I can still remember some of the hex code a few of the 6502 instructions. 4C is JMP, A9 is LDA, etc.

And by the way, we considered C a high level language back then.

Comment Kurzweil is AI.. and somewhat buggy (Score 1) 830

Ray Kurzweil has been making claims for AI for years. For example that we will have an AI singularity event and that
society will be completely replaced my machines. Well, decades later it still hasn't happened and the only things in the
field of computer science that seems to have a life of its own are spam and computer viruses. I'd like call them a
life form.

Will we reverse engineer the brain any time soon? I doubt it. Part of the reason is practical. This would be an
extremely expensive and time consuming undertaking. I'm not sure its even worth it, especially when this is
compared to other branches of science which have made rapid advances. For one example, take a look at
the field neuro-science and its use of fMRI scanning.

Reversing engineering the brain, probably is possible, but it's probably not worth it right now. Well have
to wait another decade.. again.

Comment Evolution and the Church (Score 1) 286

I realize that this is slightly off-topic, but here's some food for thought concerning evolution in the Catholic and Jewish religions:

Consider what would happen (centuries or millennia ago) if you were a poor but very intelligent male child in Europe:

Depending on the religion of your family, you would probably come to attention of the local priest or rabbi.

If your family was Catholic you might be allowed to enter the priesthood, learn to read and write, and given initiative and some luck, you could rise through the ranks of the church hierarchy. Given you stay in the church it is unlikely that you would produce children.

If your family was Jewish, you might be tutored by the local rabbi, learn to read and write, and given initiative and some luck, you would likely marry someone from an educated and perhaps well to do family. It is likely that your children would get a head start in life, as compared to yourself.

Now consider what this difference means over thousands of years of evolution. The Catholics are removing intelligent people from the gene pool and the Jews are giving them a breeding advantage.

The Catholic religion has existed for over 2000 years, and the Jewish religion for much longer. This is may be enough time to produce measurable results. Think about the studies of the of the Ashkenazi Jewish community, which show a greater than 100 average IQ.


Memorizing Language / Spelling Techniques? 237

NotesSensei writes "My kids are learning Chinese in school. While the grammar is drop-dead simple, writing is a challenge since there is no relation between sound and shape of the characters. I would like to know any good techniques (using technology or not) to help memorize large amounts of information, especially Chinese characters. Most of the stuff I Googled only helps on learning speaking."

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