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Comment WWW trilogy anybody? (Score 1) 149

In his WWW trilogy, Robert J. Sawyer envisions a chimp and an orangutan based in different institutions communicating with each other on skype with sign language. In the fictional reconstruction, that would have been the first inter-species remote communication in history. This thing seems pretty related, I would dare say "inspired", at least.

Comment ASUS Transformer TF101 (Score 5, Informative) 168

I cannot speak for the upcoming Transformer Prime, but its predecessor TF101 can be rooted extremely easily (no time wasted here).
OTA updates keep working and the rooting can easily be undone (actually, the device gets automatically un-rooted every time you do an OTA update).
The super simple rooting procedure is discussed here:
You basically just download a jar to your computer, connect the tablet via USB and follow the instructions on screen. It takes less than 5 minutes. I cannot guarantee that it does not invalidate the warranty, but I would say it doesn't.

Comment Now that I was getting used to it... (Score 1) 1

Well we still do not know what will happen in the end, but here are some considerations.

I had my first contact with Unity when I installed 11.04 beta less than one week ago. My first reaction was of skepticism, I was having problems getting to like Unity. Then I started getting used to the differences, and I also realized that many of the problems I was having (e.g. Alt+Tab not switching between windows) were due to conflicts with residual config files in my home directory and not to Unity deficiencies.

Now, after some days, I must say that I find the overall user experience quite pleasant, and I start preferring Unity's way of handling the UI over Gnome 2.x's. Still, I am not so sure how Joe users would react to the introduction of a new default interaction paradigm in their OS of choice. I am afraid that making Unity the default could cause some backlash for Ubuntu, so maybe it would be wiser to make it an optional choice. Furthermore, Unity seems still a little bit too rough on the edges (see the lack of customization options and of applets/widgets for the new panel), so maybe it could be appropriate to keep it in the beta channel for a few more months.

On the other hand, if at Canonical they have already decided that Unity is the future, then maybe it does not make a lot of sense to procrastinate the inevitable. And after the recent release of Gnome 3, whose shell is based on a very similar interaction paradigm, it looks like a lot of people are going to get used to the new way of doing things anyways. Plus, they have committed themselves to Unity several months ago, and backing of just a few days from the new release could be a major blow to Canonical's and Ubuntu's credibility.

Submission + - Ask Slashdot: Relativity 3

Stenchwarrior writes: Maybe this one's been done to death, but I knew the way-smarter-than-me people here at Slashdot would have a nice way to explain Einstein's Theory of Relativity to my 68 year old father. Don't get me wrong, he's an intelligent man. He's a design engineer and vice president of his company, but a little "set in his ways" if you will.

I've read Brian Greene's Elegant Universe and I especially love the cars-racing-down-the-track analogy to explain why time apparently slows the faster we travel, but that didn't sink in with the guy. I also tried to explain (in an effort to show real-world application) that even the GPS satellites had to be re-calibrated to account for the speed difference they travel relative to us on the ground to make the results accurate, but my father the skeptic simply replied "I don't believe you".

I know, I know, just because someone doesn't believe in gravity doesn't mean it doesn't exist. But I'd really like to find a way to get this through to my dad; it's a notion that I believe as verifiable and a fact and I want him to understand the same things I made myself learn all those years ago. Have any good references or analogies?

Submission + - Ubuntu 11.04 to Default to Gnome Classic? ( 1

CynicTheHedgehog writes: In today's technical board meeting minutes there is a note to "bring up the state of unity on the -desktop list for public review and discussion" with the possibility of reverting to the "Classic Gnome Desktop by default". Have the mixed reactions to Canonical's Unity desktop made an impact?

Comment Re:Doesn't it go deeper than that? (Score 1) 145

Fine, in a world of reasonable people we could go without laws at all, and I am generally against the proliferation of little and particular laws - one of the biggest problems of my Country, if you ask me. Fact is that what we think is not too important, given that it looks like a judge has just deliberated against our idea.

Comment Re:Doesn't it go deeper than that? (Score 1) 145

I will try to rephrase my thoughts, which I seem not to be able to explain.

I do not think that linking to _anything_ is a crime, but is in undeniable that it can make it easy for people who want it to commit a crime. I don't know what's the correct English wording for it, but I think that it is not wrong to say that in such cases they can be considered "accessory to a crime". I also don't like the idea that governments or judges can decide what a search engine can link or not.

For these reasons, I think that it would be reasonable for search engines to be protected by explicit laws that free them of responsibility on these cases. If some content is illegal, then the source of the content should be liable for that, and if the use is illegal than the user should be liable for that, while in no case the search engine should be involved in it. Liability on the source and on the user are already accounted for by many legal systems, but what is generally missing is something protecting the search engines, which become involved in this thing between the medium that we use to locate and use possibly problematic data, and being them the only thing shared between the users and the sources, they are an easy target to bring down when authorities try to limit access to such data.

Comment Re:Doesn't it go deeper than that? (Score 3, Insightful) 145

I agree on that - and if you had read my post until the end maybe you would have understood it too.

But still, if according to a law facilitating illegal behaviors is unlawful (as is the case in Italy, but I guess many other countries have similar articles in their body of laws), then they are breaking the law. And the idea that is okay to break the law as far as I don't mind it, seems a little bit idiotic to me, no less than having a judge deciding what a search engine can or can't index.

So, unless we claim that they are above the law, which I wouldn't recommend as a strategy, maybe it would be advisable to have laws that make $you responsible for what you search, as opposed to $search_providers responsible for what they provide, index or cache.

Comment Doesn't it go deeper than that? (Score 2) 145

I agree with the fact that, in these cases, search engines could just stop providing some service in that specific Country. In countries with a democracy, such as Italy (well, ok, more or less...), hopefully the people will uprise and have their representatives to something about it.

Still, the problem is more general than that, and I would like to raise the point just for the sake of discussion. Consider pedo-pornography, which is a crime in Italy as it is in many other countries as far as I know. In that case, we all agree that search engine should do their best to avoid promoting links with pedo-pornographic material, since we all agree that it is a bad thing and we don't want them to be facilitators of the crime. But downloading copyrighted material without the consent of the copyright holder is a crime too, so isn't it reasonable that search engines should behave similarly, and do whatever they can to avoid helping those who are trying to break the law?

I think that, in the end, it is all a matter of subjective perception of the involved crime. Since many of us don't see downloading copyrighted material as a crime, we expect things to be handled differently in that case. But from the point of view of law enforcement, publishing a link to a movie for illegal download is no different than pointing users to readily available pedo-pornographic material, as in both cases the search engine is an accomplice in unlawful act.

Isn't this something that we should consider, or we accept that, as far as information retrieval is involved, we want the "law of the demand" to be the strongest, and we accept that our search engines retrieve anything that we ask for? In this case, I think that we need some laws to shift the responsibility of searching and retrieving on the end user, and only consider the search engine as a medium with no responsibility whatsoever.

Submission + - Ubuntu 11.04 beta (

An anonymous reader writes: Ubuntu has released a public beta for 11.04. It should be noted that installing this with WUBI has been discouraged. The beta can be found here:

In addition to this beta, they have confirmed that the netbook & desktop editions are no more. They have been merged into one and simply called "Ubuntu". Also Ubuntu Server Edition is just called Ubuntu Server, without the "Edition".

Some highlights include updates to the kernal, Unity, LibreOffice, Ubuntu Software Centre and the brand new Firefox 4.

Comment Re:Should we be surprised? (Score 1) 141

> Yet you still feel qualified to comment?

Right, do I have to kill someone before I can have an opinion about murder?

I may not be using SNs directly, but as you can imagine I am surrounded by people using and abusing them, so I have plenty of observation data.

I am not saying that SNing is bad or evil, and I am sure that there are many ways in which it can be useful. Yet it is also true that all the things that you just named (organizing a BBQ, getting in touch with far friends, getting invites to selected events) were also possible before SN existed, and they were not that more inconvenient (even though centralizing all these things in just one place makes things more compact). As I see it, the main difference is just that before SN you had to *choose* who your guests would be.

You know, it makes you feel a little special when someone invites "you" to some event, instead of being invited just because "you read my wall". No?

Comment Should we be surprised? (Score 1) 141

Foreword: I am not taking part in any social network (well, if you exclude LinkedIn but I am a completely passive user also in that case).

From the outside, social networking is about showing off connections and getting the illusion of being in touch with people that, in the real world, wouldn't give a damn of you. All those people telling you their private business, they would never talk with you if they had to call you on the phone or send you an email.

On the other hand, they are still cool for getting in touch with old friends, even though generally these contacts stay very superficial. A global directory of people would be enough to achieve the same goal, without all the fanfare.

And as far as information is concerned, they are a convenient way of generating news streams without the hassle of putting a web page or an RSS feed, so they have allowed also people that don't have anything interesting to say to let the world know about it.

> Twitter resembles an information-sharing hub rather than a social network, with the top generators garnering huge follower tallies but not following their content consumers in return

Yeah, there you go.

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