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Comment Re:Cloudflare? (Score 1) 23

I'm mildly surprised that the **AA haven't mounted an aggressive campaign to sue Level3, Cogent, XO, CenturyLink, ATT, Sprint, Verizon etc. After all, all the infringing content goes over their wires and they're surely aware that there's infringing content there!

There are certain district judges that would even buy the argument.

Comment "Secure in their ... papers" (Score 2) 157

So let me see if I understand this. Alice gives me a letter, and asks me to read it and to give it to Bob. (We are all three parties to it.) The government, wishing to investigate Alice or Bob, can serve me a warrant for the letter, and demand all other of my papers that I have relating to the two? And I have no standing to contest the warrant, because it's served "against" Alice and Bob even though it's going after papers that are in my possession and of interest to me?

Is this what the Framers meant by "papers" in the phrase "Persons, Papers and Effects"?

Comment Re:Clean room implementation? (Score 4, Informative) 223

Yes. Exactly.

It's all about the term of copyright versus the term of patent. Patent lasts only twenty years at present, while copyright is effectively perpetual (whenever Pooh and Mickey might enter the public domain, the legislators fix it). If copyright governs interfaces, that part of the law will keep the government from stealing IP away from its rightful owners after twenty years.

Comment The rules are already out (Score 2) 19

You must disclose any breach at least 90 days prior to discovery or 60 days prior to its occurrence, whichever comes first. Any breach occurring without advance notification will be dealt with severely.

You must disclose all breaches on Form 27B/6. The form is secret and you do not have access to it.

Access to your system by any person on the 'no access list' will be considered a breach. The identity of persons on the 'no access list' is secret, and the Government will not inform you of whether any given person is or is not on it.

Knowing of any breach makes a person a 'high risk' individual. 'High risk' individuals shall be added to the 'no access list.'

The Government reserves the right to access your system at any time without notification. Allowing anyone, including the Government, access without advance approval is a security breach.

These rules themselves are secret and you do not have access to them.

Thank you for your cooperation, Citizen.

Comment It surely wouldn't attract me to the game (Score 1) 405

I don't think I'd try golf, even watered down. I'm a hiker. I can have fun walking around and toting a heavy bag without a little white ball anywhere in the picture, and it's a lot cheaper. Besides, I go hiking to get away from the folks who are only out there to suck up to a client or boss. I'm with Sam Clemens, who observed that golf is a good walk spoilt.

Comment Computer science and engineering are not science (Score 1) 1113

As an engineer and a computer scientist, I quite agree with you. That said, it is impossible to be competent at either without a firm grounding in the science that underlies them. Alas, it is quite possible for anyone - including distinguished scientists - to be abysmally ignorant of matters outside their specialties.

Comment This could still be a competitive bid - maybe (Score 1) 86

In the bad old days when IBM owned a monopoly on the computer business, there were a number of Federal Information Processing Standards that all but stated that procured equipment should have on the nameplate the ninth, second and thirteenth letters of the Latin alphabet as used in US English. They were opened for competitive bidding, and you'd think that only IBM could play. But sometimes it lost a bit because it was undercut by either a used-equipment dealer or even one of its own resellers. In fact, IBM used its resellers to prove to several courts that the bidding process was competitive. It would bid the contract at a non-discounted retail price, sell the equipment to a reseller at wholesale, and let the reseller undercut the price. It turned a tidy profit either way, and was still the sole manufacturer of the equipment. But as long as there was the formality of a competitive bid - which it lost - competing manufacturers had no legal leg to stand on.

Comment Moving goalposts (Score 1) 86

I know it's not a popular bullet point, but until Google Docs is 100% compatible, complaints like this don't have much grounds to stand on.

The difficulty: 100% compatibility is impossible even in theory. All that Microsoft need do is push a patch that adds or changes some minor feature, and now its competitor is no longer "100% compatible." So a Microsoft troll can always argue the "100% compatible" point, and win it by moving the goalpost. (I don't argue that you are a Microsoft troll, by the way: merely that you are advancing the argument that a Microsoft troll would advance.)

Of course, in the real world, the goalpost does move, because Microsoft is a monopoly and has captured the government. Microsoft products cannot interoperate perfectly even with themselves (ever try to open a 10-year-old document?). Nevertheless, failure to interoperate perfectly with Microsoft products dooms all competition to irrelevancy as "non-mainstream." Any non-Microsoft software, to be successful, has to address a problem for which Microsoft does not have even a bad solution. For instance, software to simulate the operation of a chemical plant might stand or fall on its technical merit. But even that might fail, because it likely has inputs and outputs that are tables of numbers, and therefore will face "100% compatibility" issues with Excel.

Given that no government at this point can intervene without crippling itself - governments run on PowerPoint, and Microsoft has them by the short hairs - I don't see the situation as changing very soon.

Comment Re:You tried it, didn't you? Come on now, admit it (Score 1) 213

I didn't test PHP, because I never use it.

I did, however, do the responsible thing and ask myself, "does code that I maintain have a similar bug, and does its test suite validate it?" I checked the Tcl test suite, and discovered that it lacked a test for the case. I added test cases for input and output conversion of the largest positive subnormal, the smallest negative subnormal, the smallest positive normal, and the largest negative normal. (All the test cases passed, so committing them ended what I had to do.)

Tcl, too, has its own conterparts to strtod and sprintf("%g"), because it depends on float->string->float being 100% lossless and on having the string representation of a float be the shortest string that reconverts to the given number. It's quite tricky to get right; this particular corner case is the tip of the iceberg.

Comment Re:Computers do what they are told to (Score 0) 250

It's always human error:

The careful text-books measure
(Let all who build beware!)
The load, the shock, the pressure
Material can bear.
So, when the buckled girder
Lets down the grinding span,
'The blame of loss, or murder,
Is laid upon the man.
Not on the Stuff - the Man!
- Rudyard Kipling, "Hymn of Breaking Strain"

Comment Re:Computers do what they are told to (Score 5, Interesting) 250

"Units are parts of variables" usually comes along with systems in which there is no escape. Dimensional analysis is fine up to a point, but when you get into weird quantities like dBm/sqrt(Hz) (seriously: ten times the log-base-10 of a quantity measured in milliwatts, over the square root of another quantity measured in hertz), the systems that enforce units tend to fall apart, and often it turns out that they simply lack the notation you need. (By the way, "dBm per root hertz" was a unit that I used in daily work at an earlier time in my life. And I still use weirdness like neper-coloumb per square micron.)

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