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Comment Re:This better not be misused... (Score 2) 389

It did cost Amazon, that I'll give you:

Here are the settlement terms:

"Techflash dug up the the settlement, which was filed in Seattle on September 25. Amazon will give $150,000 to the plaintiff's lawyers, and lead law firm KamberEdelson LLC said it will donate its share to charity. It's not clear from Techflash's report how much money 17-year-old Justin Gawronski of Michigan and a co-plaintiff, Antoine Bruguier, will get."

So yes: $150 000.00 - which goes to the lawyers. I don't see that amount being too rough on Amazon, and the little guys (the plaintiffs) over actions which, were these real-world goods, would be theft.

I also don't see the impact of negative press here: this is years old now, and there has been no drive to change the ways of this kind of practice.

So - yes, in real terms, no appreciable consequences.

Comment Re:This better not be misused... (Score 1) 389

Because in the real world their are legal sanctions against all of your examples, and real consequences if you are caught.

However, real-world issues like consequences and legal sanctions don't seem to apply to big corporations in situations like these, and there are cases of corporations using this power without good reason - Amazon and 1984 (amazingly enough), is a good example of that.

So really, this is just a case where the power is going to be abused, sooner or later, and consumers will probably have no recourse to complain.

Comment Re:Can't someone sue the carriers? (Score 2) 322

Added to the fact that you can't have a contract for something that breaks the law is the legal principle that both parties have to be agreeing to the same contract - i.e. there has to be a meeting of minds on the terms of the contract.

Just saying that the carriers are going to collect data is not enough in my opinion, as the way in which this data is collected and the depth of of the data that is going to be collected was not spelled out. And that is for obvious reasons: not many people would willingly agree to this kind of gross invasion of privacy.

Let's hope that the judge that hears this case has a daughter with a phone that can be affected by this. Hell, and a mistress, too, that would really drive the point home and make it personal.

Comment Re:Cyanogenmod (Score 1) 770

Maybe. But when I look at the chart I see the major Android offerings from the major smartphone makers. These phones should be getting updates, especially when it's the position of the manufacturer and the carrier that rooting your phone and updating it yourself is something that will void your warranty.

This is absolutely an area that android needs to address: I have had both iphone and android devices, and I am still on android now. The apple way wasn't perfect, because there is no way of downgrading your os to the one you were happy with, but at least you knew that you were in line for updates. I've got the first dual core android phone, and it still didn't come with the current android on it, or available from the manufacturer. Now that ICS is underway, I doubt I'm going to get an official update. And that really is kicking consumers in the teeth.

Comment Re:Elements of a good teacher (Score 1) 272

While I agree to much of your post, I have to argue about Piaget and language learning. Research has been done in that area, but it's not entirely conclusive when it comes to early vs. late language learning.

What is incontrovertible is that early learners learn all their languages in the same area of their brain, which is usually reserved for first language. Later learners (that is, after about 13 years old, but this varies according to sex and other individual characteristics) store other languages in another region of the brain.

It's not known whether this means that language stored in a different brain area is inherently weaker, however.

There are other major influences in language learning in the early and late levels, even strange things like ego: during your teens, you develop a sense of self and of belonging to a group (factors like accent are part of this process) and learning early can make a difference because there is no radical remaking of who you are (an English speaker changes to an English and French speaker, for example).

From my own experience, I have found that younger learners do well in some areas because of energy and enthusiasm, but older learners bring a much greater arsenal of cognitive assets to the classroom (things like memory), which you can tap into.

So pros and cons on both sides. Early advantage is a myth - and I'm a language teacher with years of experience in more than one country. I do agree that second languages should be learned as soon as possible, but that's from a systemic point of view: it's good for people to see similarities and differences between languages, and it helps you to view the world in a different way. But this should definitely not come at the expense of math, or science.

I'm all for a more rational approach to education, though, and in my opinion a huge part of the crisis in education comes from the fact that when formalized, whole-population schooling was adopted it was done not for the benefit of the children who were attending, but as a way of keeping the newly unemployed kids off the streets and out of trouble (this was during the industrial revolution but after the mechanization of the workplace, which took away a lot of the jobs that children did in factories).

It's because of this that school is structured by age rather than by ability. You should start at the same age, and then promotion should occur when you've shown you can handle the year's material.

Comment Re:Dive Into Python critique (Score 3, Informative) 46

A blog post written by Zed Shaw, author of the web-book/e-book/html guide Learn Python the Hard Way , which you can have a look at here:


Don't think this is a neutral point of view. Dive into Python tends to come up before Learn Python the Hard Way in most searches, and I think that could have something to do with that opinion.

I've used both, and in my opinion, both have a strong case for existence.

Comment Re:With any luck (Score 1) 183

Many of the people getting these threats don't know they're toothless, though. And with high-profile craziness like the Jammie Thomas fine being one of the first things that will come up for anyone searching for information after getting a letter from these scumbags, I think many people will happily settle just to make it go away.

The lawyer in the case I linked to above is British, but is trying to move his operations to the States because British law frowns on this kind of racket. Someone pointed out in the comments below that Oz also doesn't take kindly to this, so we can hope that people there realize quickly that it is toothless.

But you never know, and it can be a very lucrative game for the lawyers.

Comment Re:With any luck (Score 1) 183

But they probably won't go to court. These particular parasites tend to ask for out-of-court settlements up front, and if you have the balls to weather a stream of increasingly threatening legal letters, they leave you alone.

There was a slashdot article on this earlier this year or last year:


Comment Re:I've seen people die... (Score 1) 409

From the article, and the pictures that go with it, I think the thing that is being described as elegant is the rollercoaster itself. This guy is a Ph.D in design, and you kind of get the feeling that he had a great idea for a rollercoaster and tacked on the euthanasia part to get some deeper meaning to it - one which is a little ridiculous, as people have pointed out here.

But that coaster itself is quite beautiful, and would make a fantastic desk toy.

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The means-and-ends moralists, or non-doers, always end up on their ends without any means. -- Saul Alinsky