Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
DEAL: For $25 - Add A Second Phone Number To Your Smartphone for life! Use promo code SLASHDOT25. Also, Slashdot's Facebook page has a chat bot now. Message it for stories and more. Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 Internet speed test! ×

Comment Stop corporate/staff privilege, lose lawsuits. (Score 1) 575

From TFA:

A common overbooking problem on a United Airlines flight on Sunday ended with a man being bloodied and dragged from his seat and an already troubled airline earning more bad press. How did it all go so wrong?

USA Today reports that the flight was not overbooked. United Airlines staff wanted to fly and apparently United Airlines chose staff over their customers:

United spokesman Jonathan Guerin said Tuesday that all 70 seats on United Express Flight 3411 were filled, but the plane was not overbooked as the airline previously reported. Instead, United and regional affiliate Republic Airlines, which operated the flight, selected four passengers to be removed to accommodate crew members needed in Louisville the next day. The passengers were selected based on a combination of criteria spelled out in Unitedâ(TM)s contract of carriage, including frequent-flier status, fare type, check-in time and connecting flight implications, among others, according to United.

Also, contrary to the entry currently pinned to the top of United Airlines' twitter.com feed from United CEO Oscar Munoz which looks sympathetic, "The truly horrific event that occurred on this flight has elicited many responses from all of us: outrage, anger, disappointment. I share all of those sentiments", he told staff a completely different story:

Munoz issued his first public apology Monday but hours later sent a letter to the airline's employees lauding the behavior of the flight crew in dealing with a "disruptive and belligerent" passenger. Munoz credited employees with following established procedures on the Louisville-bound flight.

"This situation was unfortunately compounded when one of the passengers we politely asked to deplane refused, and it became necessary to contact Chicago Aviation Security Officers to help," the letter says. "While I deeply regret this situation arose, I also emphatically stand behind all of you, and I want to commend you for continuing to go above and beyond to ensure we fly right."

This would seem to answer the question the BBC pairs with their apparently hastily-drawn conclusion: "How did it all go so wrong?": It went wrong because United Airlines flight crew favored United Airlines staff over paying customers. None of the 4 customers asked to give up their seats should have been asked to give up their seat. Stop letting staff have privilege to fly at the expense of paying customers, apparently going so far as to assault customers. Stop taking the company's side of events seriously: Dr. David Dao, the customer dragged off of United flight 3411, wasn't "disruptive" or "belligerent". Even while being dragged, the video (easily found online) shows the worst he did was to say no (along with other passengers who saw him being dragged past them), which is completely understandable. Staff can coordinate their flight schedule, reserve a ticket, and board the plane just like everybody else apparently boarded flight 3411.

Contrary to Munoz's words in the letter, I sense United Airlines is now looking for new flight crew and a new CEO, assuming they're able to survive as a company (which I'm not sure they should be allowed to because I think we can all do with one less business that physically assaults their customers; we should make room for a professionally run airline that won't instill fear when company representatives ask customers to do something like an preflight offer for deplaning). This also connects very clearly to why employees need more power in the businesses they work for—apparently you can't trust some of your colleagues or high-ranking management to make the right call. This certainly gives anyone, worldwide, pause to consider what power one is giving others when one agrees to fly on their plane (this got violent even without the plane taking off!).

Comment Re:Okay, but someone wrote the algorithm (Score 1) 388

You are missing the point.

The algorithm that exists is this: given a set of input data and a set of output data, we ask the computer to create a function than maps input to output, according to how we label the data (input-1 goes into output-42, etc). What this algorithm produces is a function that performs this kind of mapping on the sample data, within some acceptable error. Then we feed it data it has not seen and look at the output.

The function it produces in general would not be comprehensible to a human, since it turns out that most useful functions have millions of inputs, and millions of internal variables and are highly non-linear.

Comment Re:Idiotic (Score 1) 388

You entirely missed the point. These systems are essentially programs written by machines (that's the learning process), they are not written to be understandable by people. With your debugger you will see that a variable x1267321467321587 is sometimes set to 1.0123 and other times 34243.11111. You will have not idea what that means.

Comment Re:How about I tell Micro$oft to go fuck themselve (Score 1) 116

But you'll keep buying systems to run Microsoft Windows. I see your comment was moderated as "insightful". Your comment doesn't live up to the subject header. Your critique gives a mild bit of chastisement to a narrow problem ("can't run normal windows programs") while giving money and power to Microsoft overall ("buy a Windows machine"). This view will help keep them in charge, not challenge them in any serious way. That's not insightful, it's forgoing freedom while complaining about smaller matters better viewed as details. Certainly not "telling Microsoft to go fuck themselves". We're all better off seeking freedom from masters, not switching from one master to another.

Comment Software freedom: best defense against malware (Score 4, Interesting) 87

The GNU Project told us about Microsoft malware long ago, including what is accurately listed "Microsoft Windows has a universal back door through which any change whatsoever can be imposed on the users" pointing to a mainstream media news reference from 2007 and another link indicating when this was used, and a pointer to a Condé Nast article talking about the (apparently ongoing) forced Windows Updates. Microsoft is also the first PRISM partner with the NSA joining on September 11, 2007, according to an internal NSA document so they have quite a long history of being untrustworthy but the underlying power they're leveraging comes from proprietary software.

Other proprietors are no more trustworthy. Apple didn't fix an intentional back door for 4 years, Apple didn't fix an iTunes backdoor through which others could have gained control of systems running the software. Apple joined PRISM in October 2012. Other proprietors with names you know (Yahoo, Facebook, Google, YouTube, etc.) joined in between the Microsoft and Apple partnerships.

The theme remains the same: it doesn't matter who the proprietor is (Microsoft in this case), proprietary software is always untrustworthy and this doesn't change even after applying lots of updates from the proprietor. Just because a new version is out, or a patch released does not mean the back door is shut or that you can verify their work (or even get someone more technically skilled to verify it on your behalf).

Now we have more confirmation of how the threats come from other directions, not just the proprietor, and that the threat is more organized than we commonly knew. Evidence like this immediately advances the discussion beyond the distraction of calling someone a 'tinfoil hat wearer' or other such nonsense, as did the Snowden documents. And WikiLeaks maintains their perfect record for authenticity in their publications—as far as we can tell these documents are what WikiLeaks claims they are. Proprietary software is always a threat. Software freedom is no guarantee of safety, but you're better off having software you can inspect, run, share, and modify (AKA control) than not. You simply can't trust proprietors to do right by you and all computer users deserve software freedom.

Comment Users have no real control over proprietary SW (Score 1) 286

Such is the nature of proprietary software. Users are at the mercy of whatever proprietors grant.

Other problems with this:

  • You can't determine if Microsoft's list is complete and correct. They report whatever they want.
  • Even if the list is complete and correct for now, you can't do much to change anything. Remember that a previous version released information even when "privacy settings" were set not to do that? That could still happen. Didn't the EFF warn Windows users about privacy problems with Windows 10? And aren't the default settings (which, in my experience, most users use) set to reveal a great deal? The user's software freedom is not respected.
  • Even if the list is complete and correct for now, the software can change. Microsoft can issue an update that alters how the software behaves without updating the list.
  • There could be other code that releases information Microsoft left out of the so-called "privacy settings".

Regardless of the PR, regardless of the labels on the settings, regardless of whether you're using the GUI to make changes or setting registry values, regardless of whether you're using one variant of proprietary software ("Basic" edition, "Home" edition, etc.) or another (perhaps an enterprise or "professional" edition) the relationship to power does not change how proprietary software works: With proprietary software users' privacy is never really under their control. Users who don't understand how computers work or why software freedom matters may read articles like theverge.com's article and come away thinking they're better off now. They won't realize proprietary software user are still facing the same problems as before with nothing of substance altered.

Comment Proprietary software: still untrustworthy. (Score 3, Informative) 94

The "guard dogs" were proprietary programs. Users of proprietary OSes (chiefly MacOS and Windows) were trusting one black box to "guard" against the ills of other black boxes (other likely proprietary programs running on the same system). This was always known to be foolish and this WikiLeaks release shows another indisputable example how this system is broken by design.

Software freedom (the freedom to run, share, inspect, and modify) is no guarantee against malware, life offers no such guarantees. As with other endeavors we can act to improve the odds in our favor for computers we own so we don't fall prey to the ills of proprietary software. We know that keeping secrets from computer users prevents them from controlling their own computers (this is the power of a proprietor and why proprietary software is released). When we have software freedom we increase the odds skilled software practitioners will identify malware, change the software to excise the malware, and release the improved software. One could even hire someone's skill and time to do this on their behalf.

But no such inspection, improvement, and release is legally permitted with proprietary software. Thus most computer users fall prey not only to the traps of proprietary software itself, but also to the traps built into the software, and the traps of the software ostensibly meant to guard from the ills of other malware. There's no good reason to have faith in one black box over another, trust that one black box will keep you safe while another is less trustworthy, or to continue choosing one master over another. It's easy, convenient, and untrustworthy to do as the proprietors want you to do. You can choose software freedom and invest in businesses working to provide you with practical hardware to make this an everyday reality that meets your computing needs. The Free Software Foundation's "Respects Your Freedom" list includes a high-powered X86 64-bit mainboard called the "Vikings D16 Mainboard" which looks particularly appealing for high-powered, high RAM ceiling systems. WikiLeaks continues to tell us all why we need hardware and software we can trust, software that respects our freedom—we see the consequences of not having trustworthy systems! We can choose to value software freedom for its own sake and we should. Investing in our own future in this way now portends big practical payoffs in the near and long-term future.

Comment Secret evidence & open source not just for dev (Score 1) 656

Dries Buytaert "ask[ed] Larry [Garfield] not to participate in the Drupal project" and Buytaert said his choice Buytaert said was based in part on "confidential information that I've received" about "omissions in Larry's blog post" concerning Garfield's sex life leading Buytaert to "[suffer] from varying degrees of shock and concern". Yet open source long prided itself on being a developmental methodology which eschews certain outside considerations, most notably software freedom. Software freedom is not relevant for consideration on its own merit, and a user's software freedom is an issue that needlessly drives away open source's principal audience—businesses. Therefore it was understandable, even if one disagreed, when an open source advocate would chastise the free software movement along the lines of including such foreign concerns like ethics into what makes software free and how one ought to treat others with regard to computers and software. Apparently other outside concerns are more acceptable and open source (a developmental methodology) values more than just development released under an OSI-approved license to make software which "drive[s] innovation" resulting in a promised "higher quality, greater reliability, more flexibility, lower cost, and an end to predatory vendor lock-in".

In an update to his blog post, Buytaert also says that Garfield will be deplatformed (as the neologism goes), "the Drupal Association made a decision not to invite Larry to speak at DrupalCon Baltimore or serve as a track chair for it" presumably for the same secret reasons that so shocked and concerned Buytaert—Buytaert "can't get past the fundamental misalignment of values" wherein "Larry has entwined his private and professional online identities". So there's no room for someone who believes in "The Gorean philosophy promoted by Larry [which] is based on the principle that women are evolutionarily predisposed to serve men and that the natural order is for men to dominate and lead.". And this decision comes from the man who is described as "the [Drupal] project's dictator for life, the CTO of a company with powerful influence on the open source project, the president of the Board of Directors".

Comment Re:Percentage doesn't matter (Score 1) 161

The only reason Microsoft changed their language on that was because they recently learned people didn't care about them for many server-side activities including web hosting and what to run in VMs (two areas where GNU/Linux is popular). Microsoft wants to frame things in terms of popularity because it can't compete on software freedom. When Microsoft failed to show high popularity in those markets they figured they'd rather have organizations include them somewhere in the system than totally exclude them. Thus, from Microsoft's perspective, better to run their VM controller running a bunch of GNU/Linux systems than not be included at all. So out with the "Linux is a cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything it touches" language (and Steve Ballmer who said that) and in with the "Microsoft loves Linux" swag. They changed their PR in the hopes people would buy this. But they can change the PR again, and none of this PR is designed to address what they're actually distributing to their users: proprietary, user-subjugating software. This is why articles like this are framed in terms of gauging in terms of popularity instead of software freedom, and "open source" instead of free software.

Much as I want to take Eben Moglen's recent LibrePlanet 2017 speech advice to heart and "destroy no coalitions at the moment" (not that I think what I say has such power to begin with), I can't help but notice that this pairing of how to evaluate the shifting language with the group that has always eschewed software freedom and conclude that this is no accident. "Fifteen years ago [...] open source was a communist virus" is right, but it can be that again so be careful not to value your software freedom in terms of popularity. The freedom will remain, continue to be hugely practical and ethical, and a value unto itself whether software proprietors consider it a proper part of what to run or not.

Comment What you are is clear, sir... (Score 1, Flamebait) 161

When Adobe writes "I just wonder who in their marketing dept thought this was a good idea." let's be clear about this—Adobe's main source of revenue is user-subjugating software (proprietary software) just like SAS. So Adobe isn't arguing that a user ought to prefer FLOSS, even reject proprietary software. Adobe's objection comes down to either quibbling over percentage points in SAS' recommendation or rejecting the recommendation altogether on the basis that any discussion of this is likely to bring to mind the very thing proprietors don't sell users and don't want users thinking about—software freedom.

Proprietors rely on FLOSS so they can't complain too much about it. Adobe's RAW camera software, for example, depends on dcraw, a FLOSS program which, as its developers put it, "has made it far easier for developers to support a wide range of digital cameras in their applications. They can call dcraw from a graphical interface, paste pieces of dcraw.c into their code, or just use dcraw.c as the documentation that camera makers refuse to provide".

Comment Re:DRM is necessary to stop piracy (Score 2) 260

Quite true; Digital Restrictions Management (contrary to what another poster said, smart people do realize and don't allow the reframing of the language away from how most people experience DRM) doesn't affect those who get their copies stripped of the restrictions as is commonplace amongst those who share. DRM chiefly adversely affects those who participate in the process (whether they spend their own money to do it or are given it gratis).

DRM is the excuse publishers use to justify the ongoing control over one's computer, spying regime modern-day DRM schemes make possible and use, and thus pose genuine risks to everyday computer users. This is not about "balancing" rights as another poster said, this is about copyright holders and their business partners using a mechanism to get more control over your devices, your privacy, and your life than they ought to have. To publishers who claim they wouldn't engage in the process without DRM, I say that's fine but I want to see proof and lots of it; please don't publish without DRM controls you couldn't have a few short years ago (remember that DRM schemes always become more onerous over time and publishers always try to convince the public they can't get by without the higher degree of control). Let your competition distribute their work at whatever price they think they can get DRM-free and do with the reduced competition. The publisher's threat is (taken on the whole) an empty threat and everyone knows it.

Comment Re:Post them on the Internet Archive (Score 2) 555

I concur; the Internet Archive is easily reachable by everyone using time-honored and well-understood protocols that ordinary computer users and highly-skilled computer users all can use (videos delivered over HTTPS). This will also seed BitTorrents (since archive.org has been doing that too).

I look forward to someone sharing the download URL from archive.org where we can get the lectures we're all free to share.

Slashdot Top Deals

No man is an island if he's on at least one mailing list.

Working...