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Comment This is NOT a matter of trademark violation (Score 1) 150

You violate a trademark if you mis-represent a good or service as that of the trademark holder. And it has to be in the same trademark category that they registered. Having a trademark does not grant ownership of a word, and does not prevent anyone else from using that word. Use of a trademark in reporting and normal discussion is not a violation.

Comment Re: drone ship landings require a lot less fuel? (Score 1) 103

I have the front panel of the VAX 11/780 used to render that scene hanging on my wall, but I got to Pixar after that project. This year and last I've contributed some designs that will fly on a FEMA satellite, and a long time ago did a little work to support the Biosciences mission on the shuttle.

Comment Democratic Party lying? (Score 1) 648

A video edit comparing what Hillary Clinton claimed to what James Comey claimed after the FBI investigation highlights the distance between the two quite well and puts a fine point on the part where Comey says that if this had been anyone else who did what she did they might not get the same cushy response from the FBI she got.

And keep in mind that the US has very unclean hands here, according to Edward Snowden, former NSA contractor who would know what tools the NSA has available to look into this.

But of course the veracity of the documents leads us to the real story. Nobody claims the DNC emails were faked, just like nobody said the Snowden revelations were untrue. This helps us focus on what those documents show: Bernie Sanders was not lying to us when he said, "I told you a long time ago that theâ"that the DNC was not running a fair operation, that they were supporting Secretary Clinton.", and that he requests far too weak of a solution to remedy the problem (getting rid of Debbie Wasserman Schultz as chair of the DNC). And the emails show us that the DNC were telling amenable media outlets (such as NBC, if I recall correctly) which stories to not publish because they made someone they cared about look bad. Julian Assange's interview on Democracy Now is worth reading, it's quite revealing about how nasty the Clinton campaign is, sourcing the unnamed "experts" who told Robby Mook, Clinton campaign manager, that "Russian state actors broke into the DNC, stole these emails" and "are releasing these emails for the purpose of actually helping Donald Trump".

Comment Re: drone ship landings require a lot less fuel? (Score 1) 103

I don't need to stand by the rotation theory. However, the 2.5 degrees that the Earth rotates are about equivalent to the downrange distance.

The first stage is going about 1/5 of the target LEO orbital velocity at separation. While you might well model the trajectory as a parabola over flat ground, given the lack of fuel I would expect that SpaceX puts a lot more care into their trajectory. So far I've failed to attract the attention of the person responsible for Flight Club, the most trusted modeling of SpaceX flights, but I'll message him directly.

Comment /. should encourage sharing (Score 4, Insightful) 66

So why not encourage GPL violators ("pirates" too)? Instead we seem to cheer whenever we find a GPL violator.

First, we should understand what the propagandistic term "piracy" really means and understand that meaning as separate from sharing—a friendly, neighborly thing to do. As the GNU Project points out in it's list of terms to avoid on "theft": "In general, laws don't define right and wrong. Laws, at their best, attempt to implement justice. If the laws (the implementation) don't fit our ideas of right and wrong (the spec), the laws are what should change. A US judge, presiding over a trial for copyright infringement, recognized that "piracy" and "theft" are smear-words.". This difference gets to the heart of the problem in your point—you're conflating the legal with the ethical and then trying to get others to view all sharing as copyright infringement and all copyright infringement as equivalent because the law frames things in that way.

We should recognize that the terms of the licenses involved between, say, the GNU General Public License (GPL) and a typical Hollywood movie, are radically different when it comes to doing what friends do: share. One can and should share copies of GPL'd programs. It's easy to do, the GPL is easy to comply with simply by also sharing a copy of the complete corresponding source code of the program at the same time as one shares the binary. By contrast, other famously shared copyrighted items (such as most Hollywood movies) aren't legal to share even if done non-commercially and verbatim. So doing the thing that comes naturally with friends, non-commercial and verbatim sharing, is likely not allowed by that movie's license.

Since you mention the GPL, a free software license written by Richard Stallman, this is somewhat akin to what Stallman describes in his talks about the freedoms of free software specifically freedom #2: the freedom to help your neighbour. That's the freedom to make copies and distribute them to others, when you wish. This comes from a 2006-03-09 talk and you can see how the consideration here is akin to the dilemma one faces should a friend ask for a copy of a Hollywood movie:

Freedom two is essential on fundamental ethical grounds, so that you can live an upright, ethical life as a member of your community. If you use a program that does not give you freedom number two, you're in danger of falling at any moment into a moral dilemma. When your friend says "that's a nice program, could I have a copy?" At that moment, you will have to choose between two evils. One evil is: give your friend a copy and violate the licence of the program. The other evil is: deny your friend a copy and comply with the licence of the program.

Once you are in that situation, you should choose the lesser evil. The lesser evil is to give your friend a copy and violate the licence of the program.

[laughter]

Now, why is that the lesser evil? The reason is that we can assume that your friend has treated you well and has been a good person and deserves your cooperation. The reason we can assume this is that in the other case, if a nasty person you don't really like asked you for help, of course you can say "Why should I help you?" So that's an easy case. The hard case is the case where that person has been a good person to you and other people and you would want to help him normally.

Whereas, the developer of the program has deliberately attacked the social solidarity of your community. Deliberately tried to separate you from everyone else in the World. So if you can't help doing wrong in some direction or other, better to aim the wrong at somebody who deserves it, who has done something wrong, rather than at somebody who hasn't done anything wrong.

However, to be the lesser evil does not mean it is good. It's never good - not entirely - to make some kind of agreement and then break it. It may be the right thing to do, but it's not entirely good.

The only thing in the software field that is worse than an unauthorised copy of a proprietary program, is an authorised copy of the proprietary program because this does the same harm to its whole community of users, and in addition, usually the developer, the perpetrator of this evil, profits from it.

Comment Re:What is the appeal of these things? (Score 1) 129

I like my Apple Watch (the Sport - read "inexpensive" - model). I like having notifications on my wrist, because it's a lot less disruptive to make a quick glance at my arm than to pull out my phone. Don't underestimate the convenience of seeing your next scheduled appointment at a glance! I also really enjoy the activity tracking. I used to have a Jawbone UP but I had to send it back several times for repairs; it wasn't up to the rigors of my Desktop Warrior lifestyle. My watch (plus a couple of third-party apps) is far more useful for fitness stuff than the UP ever was.

watchOS 2 went a long way toward converting the watch from a fun gadget into something genuinely useful, and by all accounts watchOS 3 sounds like a huge step forward. If I lost my phone, I'd hightail it to the store to pick up another one ASAP. It's where I keep my schedule, to-do list, contacts, and other stuff that makes day-to-day life as easy as possible. If I lost my watch, I'd meander back to the store when I had some free time. I'd be bummed and would keep glancing at my naked wrist out of habit, but I'd survive. I would eventually replace it, though. While I could certainly live without it, I like having one and wouldn't voluntarily go without.

Comment Re: drone ship landings require a lot less fuel? (Score 1) 103

Well, Alastair, you should probably not get snotty and ad-hominem, unless you want me to comment on how a one-time sci-fi author and the Unix guy at Dish doesn't really have more authority than the random person one might find in the SpaceX group on Reddit.

It happens there are a few people over there who are rocketry professionals, have the math, and have followed SpaceX long enough. So, sure, their opinion can indeed be trusted.

So far, we have a suggestion from one of the lesser folks there that raising the apogee takes advantage of the Earth's rotation. We'll see if we get the attention of the right people.

Comment Re: drone ship landings require a lot less fuel? (Score 1) 103

It seems to be a common misconception that orbital mechanics somehow knows when you are in orbit and does not work otherwise. But that is as silly as saying that relativity only works near light speed. These things always work regardless of speed, it's just that their effects are macroscopic at greater speeds.

Comment High-tech users have a lot to learn here (Score 1) 637

There's a lot programmers, sysadmins, and other high-tech people could learn from those who are used to organizing politically for shared ends. Political advocacy is not one of the poorer high-tech person's strengths. There's a streak of undeserved independence in high-tech that doesn't reflect how much people have to work together explicitly for political ends, not dismissing politics as undesirable, unnecessary, or unimportant as you commonly see the high-tech set train each other to espouse.

Comment Re: drone ship landings require a lot less fuel? (Score 1) 103

Here's an illustration of the boost-back to RTLS trajectory. You can see that it very definitely goes up. And to prove from observation, you can actually see where the two trajectories separate in photos from yesterday's launch. It's a rather dim curl up, and another continuing East, in Jason Ruck's photo and John Kraus's photo.

At the speed of stage separation, they rocket isn't going fast enough to stay in orbit, but it is definitely in the regime where orbital mechanics has a macroscopic effect. If you think about it, this is going to be the case at some reasonable fraction of orbital velocity.

Comment The perspective of a 3D animation professional (Score 5, Interesting) 302

This is just like the way people whined that color film had ruined the medium, and the ones before them who whined about talkies and yearned for the days of silent films.

I started at the NYIT Computer Graphics Laboratory in 1981 and left Pixar in 2000. These days I produce or am on screen once in a while.

While I was at NYIT they weren't story oriented, and thus all you see of them is demos. Pixar, on the other hand, always put story first. We knew that we could not make a film stand up on effects alone.

Today, a good 3D animation house can make absolutely any scene they like. And thus there isn't anything special about doing so. It's there if it needs to be there to tell the story, and not otherwise.

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