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Comment Proprietary software never discloses the truth. (Score 1) 45

You're getting upset about the wrong thing because you apparently believe that software proprietors can be trusted. Ultimately who would tell you that a particular variant of Windows allows you switch some privacy-busting feature off? The proprietor — the very party you can't trust to tell you the truth.

Structurally no proprietor is any different in this regard: they're all untrustworthy by default no matter what they tell you a feature is for, how to disable that feature, or whether you can trust them with your data. The free software movement has been saying this for decades. More recently, Windows Telemetry had a preference setting which meant nothing (any updates to which falls into the trap described above), and the underlying structural problem with proprietary software remained as-is including software you don't even know is running on a proprietary OS. Snowden also clued us all into how Apple, Microsoft, Google, and so many other businesses are "partners" with spy agencies. There's really no good reason for tech-literate people not to know better than to trust proprietary software and argue from the perspective that the proprietor should mistreat you a little less.

Comment Re:Define "unlimited". (Score 1) 106

I'd expect one either pays for the space used at whatever the going rate was when the year elapsed, or whatever rate was locked in when one entered this agreement, or one chooses to lose data exceeding the amount of space one is willing to pay for. This seems quite straightforward to me and fair.

But what is neither straightforward nor fair is what one always has to look out for -- impossible "unlimited" storage promises because they're always a lie. There isn't unlimited storage available. So it's always a matter of nailing down precisely what limits will be set up to restrict your use. And, as a side note, be prepared to defend your use against anyone who wants to claim you're "abusing" the space merely by making the space hold "too much" or transferring "too much" data when you're buying into an "unlimited" storage space.

Comment Define "unlimited". (Score 1) 106

Seagate claims you'll get a year of unlimited storage just for buying the hard drive

When previous so-called "unlimited" storage systems came out they were canceled and the storage system provider (and their sycophants here on /.) tried to pretend that one could "abuse" said storage merely by uploading too much data. Since this flies in the face of unlimited storage, it's worth asking what exactly does "unlimited storage" mean here?

Comment Read the Constitution (Score 1) 1424

The Electors are free to vote for whatever candidate they like. Any state laws that require them to vote for the popular vote winner is their state would most likely be found unconstitutional.

The intention of Electoral College has always been a check on the popular vote. So far EC has never exersized this power, but in theory it could happen

Comment Access requires sycophancy. (Score 1) 145

Time magazine, being mainstream American corporate media, would do well to give Trump the nod in order to try and get into his good graces and thus increase the odds of access. Paraphrasing CBS' Les Moonves who told the audience at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media, and Telecom Conference, such a move would not be good for America, but it could be very good for Time Magazine.

Comment Re:Counties gain freedom with free software (Score 1) 297

An article stressing that Democrats don't have a history of fighting for voting rights, aren't doing so now, and how the Democrats (and their media friends at CNN) are still peddling self-contradictory logic about the security of American elections (which are simultaneously strong enough to dismiss any criticism as "conspiracy theory" but weak enough to be interfered with by Russians).

Comment Counties gain freedom with free software (Score 2) 297

With a voting machine that runs on free software, counties can hire whom they wish to reprogram the machines to conform to new voting laws yet to be passed into law, counties can make changes to their voting paper layouts that the current voting machine software can't parse (perhaps changes needed in order to accommodate more candidates as a result of more people taking an interest in setting policy), counties become less beholden to whatever limitations the proprietors put into current software and more in control of their elections. Those who champion competition and user choice should join the Green Party's push here.

Voter-verified paper ballots are critical to recountable, verifiable elections, but there's nothing wrong with having a machine read or print a voter-verified paper ballot. There's value to the blind and illiterate voter in being able to vote without having to bring a trusted friend into the booth and divulging (what should be) a private matter.

I have no objections to manual vote counts based entirely on voter-verified paper ballots, I think that's an important part of how elections should be run. But I don't see a free software-driven voting machines any voter can optionally use as either pointless or bad. The Green Party is shaming the Democratic Party here both on principle and in practical terms.

Comment Software non-freedom should make you feel unsafe. (Score 1) 74

It's good you're using free software, and you should use more of it (preferring a free software OS and a computer that runs nothing but a free OS with free software on top of it). But you shouldn't feel relieved. Just because your browser got things wrong in this test doesn't mean your proprietary (therefore untrustworthy-by-default) OS will fail too. People visit these sites and erroneously think they're safer using a proprietary OS to run their free software browser (or worse, they endorse a proprietary browser written by a company known to spy on its users). I'm guessing you chose MacOS for some convenience. You should know that software in control of the keyboard, mouse, camera, and mic find that a convenient choice for their interests too.

Comment No, not every job. Software freedom helps us. (Score 1) 280

Your response strikes me as typical of programmers in that they don't recognize how their work can affect a great deal more people than almost all of the examples you cite. With the possible exception of mishandling food, none of the other examples come close to affecting the same order of magnitude of people as programmers can.

The recent VW emissions scandal is a perfect example: VW's proprietary software was used in around 11 million VW cars worldwide (that VW admits to) from model years 2009-2015. Comparable proprietary software was used in more cars of other makes and model years. VW's software apparently turned some VW cars into cars that never should have been sold. Other makes and models of cars are also showing bad signs of polluting too much and not being in line with regulations. The full scope of the damage has not been accounted for. Only centralized food processors working on very highly used ingredients have the potential for that kind of adverse impact.

This creates a situation that kills us slowly instead of quickly by polluting our air in ways our (admittedly inadequate) regulation framework was designed to disallow. Proprietary software cheated those tests by behaving radically differently in regular driving than in testing mode. These cars should all be taken back by their manufacturers at full cost to the manufacturer, giving the current owner a complete refund of whatever they paid for the car, and the manufacturer's higher-ups should pay with criminal penalties and huge fines because this is a serious environmental matter. Programmers know their software is widely used (some programmers even value the wide reuse of their code) but rarely do programmers brag that their software treats people ethically and well.

Being "aware of their moral compass" is too low a standard and something programmers have typically balked at besides. As Brad Kuhn points out, software freedom doesn't kill people, security through obscurity kills people, yet programmers today still debate the value of software freedom for its own sake instead preferring to either work on proprietary software outright, or choosing to value a non-free software-allowing right-wing corporate reaction to free software known as "open source". Read just about any /. thread today and you'll find plenty of technically literate people who balk at introducing ethics into the discussion, or try to explain away giving us all the means of helping ourselves via software freedom. Our best chance of finding and fixing the cheating car code is to require copylefted free software for all vehicles and make transfer of the complete corresponding source code and build instructions for said software with ownership of the vehicle. But we choose not to do our best motivated in part by those who would rather not enter into a moral discussion because they place business desires above how people ought to treat other people.

One easy way to help fix this is helping those who help us. Today the Linux kernel is used in a lot of products that end up in people's homes, listening and watching them all the time via cameras and mics controlled with proprietary software. It's hardly a stretch to imagine that non-technical customers are being spied on without their knowledge or consent. It's bad enough that Linus Torvalds' fork of the Linux kernel allows proprietary software (as opposed to GNU Linux-libre which does not), but GPL violations are rampant. We can help the Software Freedom Conservancy by funding their efforts to pursue GPL violations, and I hope you'll do so. We owe the entirety of free software routers to comparable efforts, freeing code from Linksys which we can apparently reuse in many other routers. That freed software and its derivatives makes routers more trustworthy, improvable, more long-lasting, and worth paying for. We should not fuel the destruction of civil liberties by making it so easy to put Linux into devices and then not care if those devices are used to spy on people.

Comment Manufacturing consent is corp. media's job #1 (Score 1) 624

Regarding "the absence of someone convenient to pick on": Hillary Clinton has only herself to blame for her losing campaigns. The 2016 campaign was hers to lose and her incompetence apparently found a way to lose the electoral vote (the only vote that counts) to another candidate her campaign would not stop making fun of. Instead of spending 3 "debates" worth of time joining Trump in pointing fingers of disgust at each other, she could have chosen to raise practical arguments against that resonated with workers (such as the workers hurt by NAFTA, which she endorsed). Instead of taking money from the big banks and continuing the wars Obama kept going from Bush (as well as the drone war Obama escalated so much it's mostly Obama's legacy now), she could have done as Bernie Sanders did and raised money from the public in small donations and done as Sanders didn't by taking a new stance against empire-building. But she apparently didn't see that having the US go through another term like Obama's was never in the US' interests, only the elites whom she both was and whose interests she defended.

I can see why anyone would find the Snopes interview article confusing (how legitimate can a news source be if they're publishing "erroneous stories"?), but I'd say this is merely the latest symptom of calling erroneous story publishers "legitimate publications". First, you have to understand whose interests are being served by corporate media. It's not the general US public's interest. The US are among the most propagandized people on the planet and the US is the chief source of world terror. Maintaining the latter requires the former.

Second, go back to the 2003 invasion of Iraq and recall that the New York Times saw fit to publish factually inaccurate headline stories from Judith Miller. Miller would later retire and the Times would later apologize but in nowhere near as public a manner as they did with the far less important lies of Jayson Blair (which included a large spread and a well-attended public event that was also carried on C-SPAN). You can count on the Times to champion the pro-war position, despite that war costs lives, trillions of dollars, and most Americans don't want war. Following suit with a pro-war US presidential candidate such as Hillary Clinton (a Syrian "no-fly" zone that she secretly tells her bankster friends will "kill a lot of Syrians") is de rigueur.

Comment Open Source doesn't care for your software freedom (Score 5, Informative) 53

Let it never be said again that there's no substantive difference between free software and open source—here you have an open source booster (Red Hat's CEO Jim Whitehurst) pitching proprietary software as a good thing unto itself. Many years ago the Free Software Foundation told us about this when they wrote about the "Fear of Freedom" and the section that highlights how open source enthusiasts and free software activists react radically differently to non-free software:

The idea of open source is that allowing users to change and redistribute the software will make it more powerful and reliable. But this is not guaranteed. Developers of proprietary software are not necessarily incompetent. Sometimes they produce a program that is powerful and reliable, even though it does not respect the users' freedom. Free software activists and open source enthusiasts will react very differently to that.

A pure open source enthusiast, one that is not at all influenced by the ideals of free software, will say, "I am surprised you were able to make the program work so well without using our development model, but you did. How can I get a copy?" This attitude will reward schemes that take away our freedom, leading to its loss.

The free software activist will say, "Your program is very attractive, but I value my freedom more. So I reject your program. I will get my work done some other way, and support a project to develop a free replacement." If we value our freedom, we can act to maintain and defend it.

Whitehurst mentioned "why Microsoft had to open source .NET". What freedoms does that really convey to .NET users? It's worth taking a look at Microsoft's Patent Promise for .NET Libraries and Runtime Components and understanding its limitations. This patent promise doesn't look out for your software freedom. As End Software Patents warned us two years ago:

[Y]ou're only protected if you're distributing the code "as part of either a .NET Runtime or as part of any application designed to run on a .NET Runtime". So if you add any of the code to another project, then you lose protection and MS reserves the right to use their patents against you.

Secondly, the protection only applies to a "compliant implementation" of .NET. So if you want to remove some parts and make a streamlined framework for embedded devices, then your implementation won't be compliant and the protection doesn't apply to you.

Microsoft's "patent promise" so-called "protection" looks very different from how the GPLv3 treats users. End Software Patents summarizes the GPLv3's language in section 11: "[c]ode distributed under the GNU GPLv3[] comes with a patent grant which basically says the contributors can't use their patents against the users for exercising the freedoms granted in the licence" whereas Microsoft's "protections disappear very quickly for those who wish to modify or re-use the code".

Comment Software freedom is its own reward. (Score 3, Insightful) 123

A major difference being that of those three only Firefox lets users see what's going on, alter the code, and share their improvements with others (even commercially). It's a lot harder to get away with spying and other kinds of subterfuge in software users are free to run, inspect, share, and modify. Subterfuge is trivially easy to do in proprietary software, thus proprietary software is never trustworthy and never safe to use. Furthermore, both Google and Microsoft work with government agencies (such as the NSA) to help their spying efforts. You're better off with even worse quality code that is free software than more featureful, less buggy, faster, or in any other way "better" proprietary software. Software can be improved to become technically better but only the copyright holder can free their proprietary software.

Comment Re:Proprietary software never discloses the truth. (Score 1) 126

I too wouldn't mind seeing deceptive practices properly punished, but punishments won't inherently bring software freedom. Jailing amazon.com's leaders for taking away (of all books) "1984" from some legal purchasers of that eBook on the amazon DRM-riddled eBook device won't grant those readers what they need—DRM-free copies of the books they purchase and fully free software eBook reader source code. I think big organizations will eventually come to realize (if they don't already) that letting some higher-ups get punished is a small price to pay to retain the power over the user proprietary software gives them.

Also, open source was established well after the free software movement and open source was established precisely to disconnect the call for freedom that the free software makes central to its cause. A couple essays (older essay, newer essay) describe the on-the-ground practical differences in this and they couldn't be more stark: there are situations where open source fans will accept proprietary software where free software activists will instead choose to do without and perhaps work on a free replacement for the software. This difference also gets to why some people refer to open source's efforts to make non-free things look better than they are "openwashing" (a term based in the word "greenwashing" to make anti-environmental things look environmentally conscious; I first came across the term in a talk by Brad Kuhn, former Free Software Foundation Executive Director and currently at the Software Freedom Conservancy).

Comment Re: Proprietary software will always surprise user (Score 1) 157

The point is that modern cars have computers in them running proprietary software which control how the car behaves. Implementing the same limits with mechanical apparatus means exposing how the apparatus works and allowing the car owner to remove or adapt the apparatus. Proprietary software hides the rules and makes it much harder for the car's owner to remove or adapt how the software works. Apparently a variety of car manufacturers use this secrecy to deceive consumers into buying a car that didn't behave the same in testing as it does in regular use. The consequences of this are vast and hardly limited to cars. But the only real solution is the same: pass on the code to the good being sold under a free software license right along side selling the good so the owner of the good can truly make their object their own.

"Bitching that their test doesn't reproduce real world driving" is very much the problem here because the same thing happened in environmental tests with a very large variety of makes and models running software designed to cheat testing. It hardly matters whether the feature that exposes the problem is compliance with emissions regulations, getting the RPMs one expects out of a car, or anything else because the underlying issue is controlling the user through proprietary software and therefore one has to understand the inherent untrustworthiness of proprietary software as the root of the problem.

If you see the commonality between this story and so many other stories on /. it's because you understand that /. points readers to a lot of stories where proprietary software is to blame. Every DRM story, every story where the good the owner purchased isn't behaving reasonably comes down to proprietary software isn't giving the owner full control over the device they own. Anyone who owns anything running on proprietary software has good reason to be concerned about this. Everyone should use the presence of proprietary software in a device as a reason to not buy that device. The only way to fix that problem is free software. As I said in another thread, software freedom is the only thing that will keep proprietors from taking advantage of computer users because when the proprietors don't know who is inspecting the code, improving the code, or distributing improved versions they know they can be caught.

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