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Comment Re:Super majority (Score 2) 634

I'm as horrified about this result as anyone, but it's hard to argue it's undemocratic.
52% voting LEAVE on a 72% turnout is 37% of the entire population of the nation.
Even the most historic wildly popular presidential victory like Reagan in 1984 only got 59% on a 53% turnout: 31% of the nation. No-one would argue that Reagan didn't have a mandate to govern.
I wish it weren't true, but this is a mistake made decisively.

Comment Re:Can I "Hate" the ads? (Score 1) 82

"Will facebook stop showing me ads?"
Interested fact: yes, at least in your stream/timeline. I persistently reported every single ad as 'Not relevant to me' for a while and eventually all ads masquerading as posts went away. Every six months or so they insert a few (starting with things like the Red Cross or WWF) and try to train me to accept them, but a couple of weeks of killing the ads makes them go away again. Obviously, I don't interact with any of the other commercial content (eg. liking Lexus' Facebook page - why would you?) and that seems to keep the neighborhood quite tidy. Easy to ignore the crap on the right-hand side of the page, I'm barely even aware of it.

I'm always surprised when I see what other people's feeds look like...

Comment Re:Would a bear detect the uncanny valley? (Score 2) 152

That's an interesting question - going by my experience with my dog and FaceTime, he doesn't have the ability to process a 2-D image as a representation of a living 3D thing. That's not a trivial thing - very young children can't do it either. Figuring out that a flat image at the wrong scale, with perspective distortion, lighting artifacts, reflections etc is equivalent to a real creature is (I think) a learned skill.

When it comes to dogs (and maybe bears) I always assumes that partly because although we are creatures where our visual sense is our primary sense (if it looks like a thing, I'm prepared to ignore my other senses), for dogs smell is much more important. Obviously, a flat screen image smells nothing like the thing it represents, so I suspect a dog will discard the vague similarity easily.

Still, I think other people have different experiences with their pets and Skype, so maybe it's possible. But dogs live in our world and have lots of opportunities to learn (eg. to recognize our voices). But it's a complex cognitive challenge.

Comment Re:Perhaps Journalists are full of themselves? (Score 1) 311

ah, there's a paradox hidden in there. Journalists are not one homogenous mass. A journalist is essentially anyone who condenses and reports information (hopefully facts) to others. If you got excited about a given issue (oh, say, journalistic ethics) and put some effort into researching it and shared wha you learned, you'd become a journalist.

Isn't that a wonderful thing? The internet means it's available to all of us to be both citizen journalists and citizen politicians - politicians are simply people who have a point of view that they seek to gather people around. So it makes me sad when people say the problem *is* journalists, or the problem *is* politicians. It's not - the solution is good journalism and good politicians.

Support good journalism (subscribe, whitelist), support good politicians (yeah, I know. But if you look hard, there's someone out there saying something you agree with that is thoughtful and persuasive), denounce the bad ones. Don't tar the entire group with a brush because that is cynical and self-defeating: the least likely way to make the change that you want.

Comment Re: Who's behind DDG? (Score 2) 112

I've always wondered that. It would certainly be an efficient method for the NSA to track searches of people who are trying to hide. Trust is such a fascinating issue, and it comes down to this:
Do you trust, say, Google, who have stated privacy policies, some track record of resisting the NSA (likely unsuccessfully) or the dude who started DuckDuckGo, Gabriel Weinberg ( who kinda looks friendly and geeky, but could literally be anyone.

Seriously, it's kind of nuts that the best tool available for privacy is to blindly trust *some random guy on the internet*.

Comment Re:Right conclusion, wrong reasoning. (Score 5, Interesting) 507

Funny thing is that the original 'AGILE Manifesto' wasn't 'theory' or even a methodology: it was really a set of observations on what did and didn't work for them.
I think the 'universal solution' aspect of AGILE is let your smartest people work the way that they find most efficient - trust your (best) people. Many of the core concepts are not revolutionary: don't get bogged down in planning, work in small teams, prepare to adapt rapidly when your spec cannot be fixed.

The AGILE guys were inspired by the obvious wastefulness and inefficiency of the big enterprise software projects they had been on, so to that extent their observations were dead accurate. But now people are acting as though the *specific methodology* that's grown up around it is precious, holy and applies to everything, everywhere.

It's exactly like the scene in 'The Life of Brian; where Brian loses his shoe running from the crowd: one guy argues that they should all hold one shoe in the air, and the other guy wants to gather shoes together. The shoe is not the point (SCRUMS, Pair programming, backlogs), it is the idea of working intelligently.

Comment Re:Better idea (Score 1) 564

Strongly agree. It seems odd that desktop UI designers haven't taken that route (although if you look at the default MS Office icon suite, there's a clear intent to consistently visually separate data and executable files.) Ultimately, the user doesn't want to decode a three-letter extension, so why are we even considering forcing them to? The actual problem is simple and only needs to deliver a simple binary distinction between two specific classes of file.

The days of computers being 'for' techies are long, long gone. I strongly suspect that the .TLA solution wasn't invented for the non-technical user's benefit but created by coders, for programming/filesystem ease. Just because people at Slashdot have it imprinted on their subconscious doesn't make it the best solution, just an arbitrarily chosen decent solution from decades ago. Could you possibly explain to a regular human being why that was the best possible way of distinguishing data from applications? Images are rich and information-dense: that's why icons exist: you can understand the meaning of them much more quickly than text.

Remember the way old iOS icons used to use a very distinctive button shape and highlight across all iOs apps? That kind of approach would work well to make applications stand out, and then do something similar, but distinctively different for all data formats. Apple have had no problem with setting strong UI guidelines in the past. I'm not advocating the specific glossy-button - just a consistent aesthetic approach.

Comment Re: Another value of anonymity (Score 1) 282

I took exactly the opposite approach: rather than relying on Slashdot's it admin for my anonymity (they probably have the IP address you posted from for a start), I figured off I'm safest posting with my real name and assuming no anonymity in the first place. That way I protect myself by thinking about what I'm saying and always remembering that just because a site tells me that I'm anonymous, it doesn't mean I really am, or will stay so.

Comment Re:Useful Idiot or Russian Agent (Score 1) 346

I don't see any need to invent anything beyond what's in the public domain:

Snowden reckons as Hong Kong as the most developed/politically-stable/safe place to be when the shitstorm blows up, from which extradition will be the least likely. Seems like a reasonable guess. If he'd been working with Russia, it'd be easier to go to Russia - they've extracted agents from the US before.

Say what you want about Russia (economy/industry/military) but they have a large, competent spy agency in the FSB. As soon as this blows up, they are certain to try and get some of their agents as close to Snowden as they can, just in case. I mean, they aren't going to sit back and watch CNN with an asset this big: they don't know what he has, but it's clear he's valuable given the noise the US is making.

Things unfold and it becomes clear China are not as resilient to US pressure as Snowden hoped, and he needs an exit. Cue FSB/SVR offering him a way out. They aren't going to announce themselves as "Hi! We're spys" but as diplomats, the time-honored cover for spying. But unless Snowdenn is naive (he's not) he would have been pretty clear that a spy agency was behind it: it's what they are for.

Now the FSB/SVR really want to rub it in to the US and there's few enough success stories they can bring to the Russian public these days. Spying tends to be secret. So spin the story this way. It's pretty close to the truth, except you make Snowden sound a dumber than he is. What do they care?

Comment Re:Dialup? Windows 95? (Score 2) 126

Oops. my bad. Just noticed that under "Related US Application Data" it calls out that this is a division of another patent, filed Oct 2, 1996. Now that *is* interesting.

Are you sure that this idea was 'obvious' in 1996? I was in college studying bending beams at that time and sure as heck hadn't thought of downloading episodes of comedy podcasts. I can't say what everyone else was up to.

For reference, the claim on this patent is pretty much the same:
1. A player for reproducing selected audio program segments comprising, in combination:
means for storing a plurality of program segments, each of said program segments having a beginning and an end,
means for receiving and storing a file of data establishing a sequence in which said program segments are scheduled to be reproduced by said player,
means for accepting control commands... means for continuously reproducing said program segments in the order... [+ bunch of controls for navigating media]

Again, IANAL, but this seems to be a description of something that might well have been a new idea in 1996. I dunno. The obviousness test is an interesting one, and I still can't figure why they can go after media producers, when the patent sounds like it would result in Apple, Sony and the software/device people infringing.

Comment Re:Dialup? Windows 95? (Score 1) 126

(IANAL, but) that's not how patents work: you're reading the preferred embodiment, which apart from showing that they've figured out *a way* to do this, doesn't really matter at all. The important bit (what determines infringement) is the claims, starting on page 32 (col 46), of which there are 35.
To make it even easier, you only really have to read the independent claims (1, 13, 23, 31). Every numbered claim that includes the text "as set forth in claim X" doesn't matter unless you're infringing claim X.

So let's look at independent claim 1:
"What is claimed is: A media player for acquiring and reproducing media program files which represent episodes as said episodes become available, said media player comprising: a digital memory, a communication port..., a processor..., an output unit for reproducing ... the media files."

Sounds like iTunes. Version 4.9 of iTunes, launched in June 28, 2005 was the first to have podcast support (according to Wikipedia). I don't even slightly believe that iTunes was the first podcast player.

I'm guessing claim 31 is the one that they're attacking Adam et al with, but it does seem like this patent talks about the enabling technology, but the people who product the content. Still, I'm sure they have lawyers that can reasonably read it that way.

These things are (sometimes) intentionally broad, but it's the job of the examiner at the USPTO to figure out if these claims pass the usual tests: obviousness ("to one skilled in the art"), novelty ("prior art") and eligibility (ie. not a matter for copyright, like, say, a trademark). Obvious to you because you've been using podcasts for a decade is not the same as obvious to someone at the time this was filed, but the priority/filing date here is Mar 4th 2009.

Hmm. Well, is the claim obvious for 2009, given iTunes 4.9 was launched in 2005? Seems so to me, but like I say, IANAL.

Comment Re:But that's the way Microsoft does things... (Score 1) 222

Funny, since that's what Sony themselves did by stuffing Blu-Ray into the PS3. They sacrificed a ton of market share by conceding the price-point (and arriving late to market) in the interests of forcing the market to adopt own their proprietary storage media format. It completely worked, and in the long run I imagine it'll turn out in their interests to have done so...

Comment I see his point (Score 4, Insightful) 312

Having worked as an engineer and a manager in Silicon Valley, I see his point. But I've also worked in Germany, and it's interesting to see how many senior business leaders in Germany are engineers. I personally think that as a culture we (American engineers) devalue and even laugh at leadership skills. We think they're irrelevant to being a good engineer: call it Dilbertism.

Culturally, German engineers (in comparison) see leadership of people and teams as one of their natural requirements. Engineers are reknowned for their high-handedness and taking lead in any given situation. I remember trying being in an informal situation setting a large number of tables for a party: when I started suggesting a plan, two german language students started saying "look at the engineer, taking over as usual".

So, again, as an ex-engineer, I think our mutually reinforced disparagement of managers is part of the problem. Leadership is something we should be naturally good at, and all engineers offended by Juan's assertion should take it as a challenge, not an insult.

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