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Comment Visiting (Score 5, Insightful) 673

Visiting and/or updating, and hoping that Harold Camping's followers take to heart the open letter on that site:

Many of you will be tempted to go back to the scriptures in search of new clues for a new date. Let me plead with you to consider instead the importance of solid, basic, principles of reading and interpreting the Bible and stop looking for hidden or secret “truths.” In particular, let me encourage you always to be suspect of any major emphases in any person’s teachings that are founded on allegorical teachings. In particular, be very careful around those who push numerological interpretations. Numerology has some basis in truth, but it is highly subjective and should be approached very humbly, very cautiously, and definitely with a “less-is-more” attitude. The Bible is not a puzzle to be unraveled or a set of hidden numerical clues. What God says He says openly. Live in the clear passages of the Bible and be very suspect of those who claim to have discovered major truths in some of the more obscure portions.

Comment Re:Religion (Score 2, Interesting) 892

You seem to assume that "science" gives mankind an escape from presuppositions. But that's easily demonstrated not to be true. There are no such thing as "brute facts", whose Truth somehow transcends interpretation. There are only interpreted facts.

Everyone has faith. Even a non-religious person presupposes certain things. For instance:

  • That their mind is operating in a rational fashion
  • That what they perceive actually exists, and is not an invented artifact of their own mind
  • That nature is uniform, such that certain things which have always operated in a certain way (gravity, the speed of light, etc.) will continue to do so

etc. Such things are necessary in order to even begin thinking. Like the religious person who grounds their beliefs on the scientifically-unprovable faith in a deity, the non-religious scientist grounds his beliefs on his own scientifically-unprovable presuppositions.

Everyone does it. Your argument can't be "I have science while you have only faith." It has to be "My unprovable presuppositions are more valid than your unprovable presuppositions for the following reasons..."


Submission + - POLL: I clear my screen saver by...

g_adams27 writes: I clear my screen saver by...
  • Moving the mouse
  • Pressing the space bar
  • Pressing Enter/Return
  • Pressing a modifier key (Ctrl, Alt, Shift)
  • Pressing a "typewriter" key (A-Z, 1-9, TAB, =, etc.)
  • Pressing a "non-typewriter" key (F-key, PgUp, Esc, etc.)

Comment Re:No case (Score 0) 646

> I don't think the guy has a legal leg to stand on. Amazon removed an illegal book, and the guy still has his annotations, useless or not.

Why was the parent modded "funny"? He has a good point. You can debate and/or sue over whether Amazon should have (or legally could) remove your copy of "1984" from your Kindle. Whether or not you have notes that reference that book is beside the point. Granted, your notes may be of greatly reduced value if they contain phrases like "This is a really good paragraph", but still, I doubt you can go after Amazon for that.

What if you had a garden gnome stolen from your yard? You could prosecute the thief for the theft. You could not also go after him for $100,000 because "I buried a treasure in the yard and made notes to where it was buried. The notes told me to go to the gnome, turn west, and go 50 feet. Now that the gnome has been moved, my notes are useless!"

Comment Re:Bible 0.1.1-beta (Score 5, Interesting) 568

No, what they reveal is the tremendous accuracy of today's modern translations compared to the papyrii and codeces of antiquity. After all, consider the state of Christianity in the first few centuries A.D. - a bunch of "heretics", hated by the Jews, persecuted by the Romans, and driven underground. It was in that environment that the gospels and letters of Paul, Peter, John, etc. were copied, distributed, re-copied, distributed some more, etc.

Were there transcription errors? Sure. You try copying something the size of the Bible in secret, by hand, while fearing for your life! But we can reconstruct the original readings of the books of the NT with tremendous accuracy.

Your insistence that Christians must equate "the literal word of God" with "infallible transcriptions, every single time a book of the Bible is copied" is just plain wrong. That's not what most Christians believe. They believe that the method God used to preserve the text was to have it copied quickly and widely before any single organization could control the process and make "secret" alterations to the Scripture. (Conspiracy theorists who hint darkly about secret councils that burned books or suppressed certain ancient Christian beliefs tend to forget that, even if that was possible, there were no such organizations or counsels like that for many, many centuries . Compare that with Uthman Ibn Affan, who decided which copy of the Qur'an would be canonical, then gathered together and burning all other copies that differed from the official version. Christianity has nothing like that.

Comment He's got a point! (Score 2, Insightful) 289

After all, we all know that it would not have been possible to have such mature artistic works like Lord of the Rings, Atlas Shrugged, The Count of Monte Cristo, The Brothers Karamazov, and Casablanca without the addition of explicit sexual imagery. And it's clear that such immature games as Half-Life, Zork, Monkey Island, System Shock and Civilization were kept from becoming true works of art by not containing pornographic content.


Seriously, this article is a joke. You want a mature game? (And I use the word "mature" in its ordinary meaning, not as a synonym for "titillating"). Write good stories. I just finished Thief Gold (again), and was easily able to dismiss the clunky late-90's-style graphics and immerse myself in the fantastic story that unfolds for the player throughout its 13 missions. I'm starting Thief 2 now, where the storytelling got even better. Compare that with Crysis - while visually gorgeous, it told a very tired, worn-out story. (I get to play as a space-marine? With futuristic weapons? Wow! And I'm fighting aliens who are coming to earth? Amazing!)


Gamemakers: I'm not looking for more violence. Really, I'm not. Shooting bad guys is fine, but I don't wistfully dream about a future game where I'll be able to murder housewives and their children. And I'm not looking for more sexual imagery in my games. I want a story, with a beginning, plot development, and an end. I don't want an open-ended game where I have to create my own story because you were too cheap to hire good writers - I want you to pay what it takes to get some writers to write a fantastic tale that I can immerse myself in. Don't make it pornographic. Don't make it a blood-fest. Just make it compelling. Then you'll have a mature game.

Comment Re:Here's how it works (Score 2, Insightful) 767

Following up on my own posting (and again, IANAL), here's the type of thing that the 5th amendment is designed to protect you against:

The act of producing documents in response to a subpoena may communicate incriminating facts "in two situations: (1) 'if the existence and location of the subpoenaed papers are unknown to the government'; or (2) where production would 'implicitly authenticate' the documents." Id. (quoting United States v. Fox, 721 F.2d 32, 36 (2d Cir.1983)).

In this case, #1 doesn't help the defendant because the government knows that the files they're looking for are on the Z: drive of the defendant's computer. #2 doesn't save him either because he already authenticated the documents when an ICE agent viewed them at the border crossing. Thus, no 5th amendment protection.

One other point: the prosecution assumes the defendant knows the password to the encrypted Z: drive (a PGPDisk volume). That's a reasonable assumption (it IS his computer), and it's enough to tilt the balance in their favor and get this court ruling.

Where it would get interesting would be if the defendant claims that he doesn't know the password. ("My friend created and opened the Z: drive on my laptop, but I don't know how to access it once it's closed again"). Or whether he claims he forgot it.

Those are desperate claims, but still... he's pretty much either got to co-operate (and therefore reveal (again) the child porn on his laptop), or find some way to continue not to provide the password on any legal grounds he can.

Comment Here's how it works (Score 3, Informative) 767

IANAL, but if I understand what I'm reading, here's how it works. (Lawyers, please correct me where I'm wrong):

The 5th amendment protects you from making testimonial statements that would incriminate you. What is testimony, then? It's basically saying something that the prosecutors don't know, or something that isn't self-evidently true. (The police and prosecutors may THINK you robbed the bank, but they can't compel you to admit on the witness stand that you did so, because that would be self-incriminating testimony from you that would clinch the case.)

In this case, however, the prosecution is well aware that the defendant has the information they want: namely, the password to the encrypted drive. They know this because he typed it in previously, in front of ICE agents. Therefore, by providing them the unencrypted contents of the drive, he is not providing new "testimony" - that is, when the defendant reveals that he does indeed know the password, it's nothing new. The prosecution already knows he owns the computer and that he knows how to access the hidden drive. Thus, the 5th amendment can't be used by the defendant to save himself from having to give the contents of the drive to the authorities.

If I'm not mistaken, the authorities can compel a defendant to open a locked safe when they know that person knows where the key is (or what the combination is). I believe the same thing is happening here.

Now, what if hypothetically he had a TrueCrypt hidden container on the drive? And what if the authorities were pretty sure that such a container existed, but couldn't be sure? Could they compel him to testify whether or not there IS a hidden container in the drive? I don't believe so - that would probably tilt the balance into "testimony", which would be protected by the 5th amendment. Ditto in the case of a file called "MYSTUFF.DAT" that the authorities think is probably a TrueCrypt encrypted volume, but can't be sure about. They can't force the defendant to confirm that suspicion.

In this case, the defendant was sunk because of his prior, freely-given revelation that 1) there was an encrypted drive on his PC and 2) he knew how to access it. By giving that information up, he gave up the farm. It's too late to plead the 5th.

Comment Try HdTach (Score 1) 835

Give HdTach a try. My WinXP computer was plagued with "bursts" of slowness a few months back - everything's fine, then suddenly everything is at a standstill for 10 seconds... then it's fine again.

HdTach's graph of my drive show severe drops in the HDD sequential speed, which were not present in the reference graph for a similar model of hard drive. Diagnosis: hard drive on the verge of failure. With a new hard drive, the problem was solved.

Comment Re:They still don't get it (Score 5, Insightful) 504

> So... stop trying to get money from people who just don't value your product
> if it isn't free, because it can't be done.

Your premise is flawed. Pirates obviously do value the product even if it's not free, which they show by taking the time and effort to get it.

You seem to be quite confident that huge companies with highly-skilled marketing, accounting, and product research divisions "just don't get it", as if the ideas you present have never crossed their minds. But in fact the article spends a whole section or two discussing the issues that you refer to. For example:

The argument [of economic loss] is straightforward and both intuitively and logically sound: for every pirated copy of a product, there is some potential loss of income to the producer of that product. This is not the same as saying that every pirated copy is a lost sale. What it actually means is that firstly some proportion of the people who are pirating a game would have bought it in the absence of piracy. Equally as important however is the fact that even those who would never have paid the full purchase price for one reason or another may still have paid some lower amount to purchase and play the game which they pirated. This is because by the very act of obtaining and playing a game, they've clearly demonstrated that they place some value on that game. After all, if something is truly 'worthless', consumers won't bother to obtain or use it in the first place, regardless of whether it's free or not. Even if a game only gives the pirate a few hours of enjoyment, that's still worth something. In the absence of piracy they may have purchased the game at a discount several months after its release, or bought it second-hand for example. So the existence of piracy results in some loss of income to PC game developers, publishers, retailers and even other consumers.

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