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Comment Re:Society and CS (Score 1) 315

I think it would be a good idea to discuss with them how computer science effects different aspects of society. I think the reason they like to focus on game programming is because that is the only exciting thing about CS they soft of understand.!

I wish I had mod points for this.

The stock market wouldn't be what it is today without computer science! Er, wait. Maybe you shouldn't mention that. How old are these kids, and are they likely to be more Tea Party or Occupy Wall Street types? :P

Comment Re:Not all plans (Score 1) 166

If you've got an Unlimited Data plan (as I have), this won't be an issue. The throttling of your service will be, however.

Actually, you can no longer get the plan you are referring to unless you had it prior to something like July 7. I know because I made a point to go out and purchase exactly that plan so that I would be grandfathered in for unlimited data before Verizon stopped selling the plan. Now any plan Verizon sells you has a data cap.

I'll note that this was mentioned in the article.

Comment Re:Think of the constitution. (Score 1) 745

I don't think it's a matter of sanity. It's quite possible that someone knows right from wrong, but is completely unable to control themselves. Therefore they're not insane, but they pose a risk to society. So what do we do? Do we have to let them out and wait for them to commit a crime? Or can we commit them?

And this is why I find I'm torn by the existence of this law. I'm originally from the rural area where Nushawn Williams had unprotected sex with over 40 women (many teenagers) after being told he was HIV positive. He claims to have slept with over 300 women. He infected at least 13 women in Chautauqua County, NY with HIV, and may be responsible for up to 10 more HIV infections in former partners in the New York City area. In the end, all he could be charged with was two counts of statutory rape and one count of reckless endangerment for a maximum sentence of 4 to 12 years. While in prison, he had 21 disciplinary offenses, including throwing his urine on another inmate. He was due to be released April 13, 2010 but he is being held and his case is under review for civil confinement. Here's an article from the Jamestown, NY paper about the situation.

I do believe that there are people who are either criminally insane or are simply unable to control their actions who will endanger the public health and welfare and that our current system of laws can't always address this. Williams essentially handed multiple women, one as young as 13, what was thought to be a death sentence back in 1997. Some of them have died. He had the knowledge to avoid doing that. There wasn't really a law to cover what he did, so they went with what they could make stick, which I think most people feel resulted in a fairly light sentence for the actual gravity of the situation. Since his incarceration, he has used bodily fluids as a weapon. Overall, I am extremely leery of putting Williams back out on the street just yet.

That said, I don't like civil confinement laws. They're an incredibly slippery slope. If we can do this for one type of criminal, why not another? Who do I trust to make sure that they aren't being abused to lock inconvenient people away forever?

If they exist at all, they should only exist with extreme safeguards. 1) Only for violent offenders. 2) Only for those at an extremely high level of risk to reoffend. 3) Regular rehabilitation and treatment plan for each person, and routine reassessment of them for possible re-integration back into society. 4) Must be examined by multiple psychiatrists and consensus reached that person was still extreme threat. 5) Ability to have case for release argued before jury of citizens after a certain amount of time in civil confinement has passed.

But how practical is that?

Even then, the thought makes me sick to the stomach. I can see both sides. There are a few people I can see this being a good thing for... but at the same time, I just can't figure out how to implement it well enough so that it isn't abused the way I know it will be.

It's hard living in the world when you can see shades of grey and acknowledge that there's probably no good solution. The more time I spend thinking about civil confinement and the more cases I read where they are using it, the more convinced I am that I should oppose it. That said, my mind returns to Nushawn Williams and my reluctance to let him become modern day's Typhoid Mary.

Comment Re:Could've been the Anarchist's Cookbook.... (Score 1) 418

I think we're going for the curious but technically non-savvy group with the print copies. In fact, exactly the people I'd rather just read the stuff and carefully put the book back rather than got viruses on their computers by wandering into someone's poorly documented "You can make a smoke bomb by doing this!" page which lacks any critical warnings.

Not that I doubt some people's ability to document important safety precautions but... yeah, I do.

Comment Re:Could've been the Anarchist's Cookbook.... (Score 1) 418

You boys could really do with reading up on UK law, mere possession of these guides is now a criminal offence, although I'm not sure if it's a strict liability offence or not.

*looks happily at her American public library's book shelves and notes two copies of the book available for public checkout*

You know, I don't often burst into Lee Greenwood's song "Proud to Be an American", but this just might be one of those times. Admittedly, we're the only library in a very large system to have it, but we do.

I noticed it does say right on the title page that the recipes and tips are for entertainment purpose, should not be tried, and are not intended to be accurate. However now if I ever need to try to build a bug detector, I at least know where to look. I'd rather people satisfy their curiosity by reading the antiquated Anarchist Cookbook than wander into some of the stuff I'm sure is available on the Internet.

Comment Re:Eliminate Patents. (Score 1, Insightful) 155

"The entire point of patents is to add to public knowledge, but that isn't happening."

Only in the most roundabout way. The point of patents is to give the creator a period of time to profit off their invention before everyone can completely copy it for free. It's to give people a reason and reward for innovation--if you are the one who comes up with something and patents it, you are the one who has the right to decide who can use your patent and how (and for how much) for that 17 years or whatever. Without that protection, in theory, people have little incentive to innovate because as soon as they create something, someone else just copies it and they've lost their invention and any money they put into it. So yes, it adds to public knowledge in that it encourages innovation and publication, but it then protects those rights for a period. I do think the protection is important. One of the biggest problems with the patent system today is how corrupt it is, with the little guy getting shut out by corporations who claim to have invented things. I happen to think that little guy should be compensated for his time and effort.

So the problem is that the US patent system is corrupt, slow, designed for a 19th century national business arena and timetable (as opposed to 21st century international), and it bogs down in litigation. It certainly needs an overhaul. So does copyright. Frankly, though, so long as big business interests have the ear of Congress, neither of those will happen.

Comment Re:Hear that sound? (Score 1) 272

The scary thing is that even with judgements like this and the patent trolls out there we are actually seeing the likes of Microsoft push for option 1.

Patents will be the death of innovation if the system continues in this way, particularly if the US judgements are assessed at insane levels of cost. If Microsoft had known about this patent when starting the development they'd have bought the company for less than this judgement.

This is exactly the wrong case to use for the argument of a broken patent system, I think, primarily because Microsoft DID know about the patent and deliberately ripped the feature off with the intent to crush the company's product out of the competition. In fact, if I recall correctly, they worked with i4i, visited with them, and were pretty blatant about the whole thing.

So while I often think that the patent system has a LOT of problems (a LOT a lot of problems), this particular case is one where Microsoft is getting what they deserve, in my opinion. i4i isn't a patent troll... Microsoft pretty much came along, took what they wanted, and expected their size and superior market share to protect them. That's not good enough.

Comment Never let your healer multitask (Score 1) 386

I would conjecture that those who feel they are good at multitasking do _not_ feel this -- and that's both why they feel they are good at multitasking, and why they are actually bad at it.

Yes. And anyone who has ever played with a gamer who fancies him or herself a multitasker knows this. They never seem to understand that you're pissed off for a reason. Subtle outbursts like, "OMG, turn the damn movie off, stop IMing your friends, and pay attention to the screen. There's a reason the rest of us don't want to group with you and that you suck at doing quests!" seem to confuse them, because they are GOOD at multitasking!

Not that I'm bitter. *coughs*

Comment Re:The old fashioned way (Score 1) 828



I used to live in a city neighborhood where cars kept getting jacked from my apartment parking lot. The girl who lived directly above me kept having her red SUV stolen for joyrides despite her car alarm. (She couldn't believe I didn't have a car alarm.) The big black pickup truck next to my car got stolen. My car? Never touched. No one seemed to want a 9-year-old Buick Skylark when the rest of the lot was filled with freaking nice cars or popular cars that could be sold for parts. So I might have been a grad student with a crappy car, but at least my car was always there.

Comment Re:What's the problem? (Score 1) 305

Let me help you understand: the problem is that the consequences are inappropriate to the conduct. Your line of reasoning would have everyone accept whatever consequences are in place, no matter how draconian.

I don't know about the GP's line of reasoning, but mine pretty much goes, "If you sign a contract with someone and break the terms of it, expect them to treat you like you've broken the contract."

I don't really think this is about copyright infringement or anything else so much as it is that the student presumeably signed both network/computing contracts and housing contracts that laid out regulations and consequences. I would assume that using university networks to commit copyright infringement is probably specifically mentioned in one or both of the agreements.

If you don't like the possible consequences of contract clauses, don't sign them. If you do sign a contract, don't break the conditions unless you are prepared for the consequences. This is not a case of "A law is unfair and its consequences are too harsh." The consequences in this case are SOLELY the result of his decisions to live in a dorm and use uni resources for something he had agreed not to do. So he had choices. Don't live there. Don't use uni resources. Don't do it. Or take the consequences.

Comment Re:death of print or reading? (Score 2, Interesting) 140

Sadly, you read the source of my quote and chose to focus on that rather than on what I'd actually said. Should you care to look, the study's results are published a number of other places, but I admit that USA Today had the pertinent bit I needed all in one place for me to quote.

The point is that in many places, literacy begets literacy. Print newspapers aren't losing readers to online newspapers so much as newspapers are losing dedicated readers overall.

As to the guy reading through the four-day-old USA Today on your plane flight (I've done that flight--my butt is still recovering), people read at different speeds and levels. While I could wish that everyone would pick up certain books that I think are fantastic and read them, I've come to realize that so long as someone is reading something, you haven't lost the battle. (I'd rather he was reading an old USA Today than flipping through some of the POS magazines that are all glossy ads, but that's my personal bias.) Besides, who knows what sort of week he'd had? I'm a librarian and a bibliophile, and I've had a week or two in my life where I couldn't read a book to save my life. I just didn't have the energy or attention span. Usually those weeks involved long periods in hospital waiting rooms flipping a quarter with my brother over who got first pick of the crossword puzzles in the various newspapers we'd managed to scrounge.

I've certainly had certain parents treat the Harry Potter books with the sort of contempt you've just shown USA Today. Apparently if it wasn't considered a classic novel by 1950 for some people, it isn't something anyone should waste their time reading.

So no, I do not think of USA Today as a great journalistic newspaper. I don't believe I ever made that claim or probably ever will. My argument was with the premise that print newspaper readers are replacing their newspapers with online newspapers.

Comment Re:community (Score 2, Insightful) 326

Yes, this is an OT response. I should really know better.

Two things really creep me out in this world: People who present a dogma of the lack of faith as somehow superior to a dogma of faith, and those who continue to press economic systems that are known to be fundamental failures.

I'm curious. Do you know the poster, or are you basing this solely on his /. post?

Because simply saying that "some christians and or capitalists were uncomfortable with or offended by some of my past comments" does not mean he lacks faith or favors another economic system. He just might not share the same views as certain elements of those two groups. Many people are Christians or of another faith but are uncomfortable with some of the views of other Christians. Many people are capitalists but think that there's such a thing as hard-core capitalism that could be tempered. Very few systems encompass people who immediately share all beliefs without offense.

In particular, I think there's a big difference between saying "I made some Christians uncomfortable or offended them" and saying that someone presented a dogma of the lack of faith as somehow superior to a dogma of faith. In that context you are assuming that Christianity is the only faith, and that only by supporting atheism or possibly agnosticism would someone make a Christian uncomfortable. It simply depends on the Christian. The poster could easily be a Christian who disagreed with them on certain topics, or Muslim, or Hindu, or Jewish, or... you get the point.

Comment death of print or reading? (Score 3, Interesting) 140

Except that I'm not convinced that this is a replacement of traditional print media by Internet sources so much as it is simply a decline in news readership. As a librarian, I've found that I don't really compete with bookstores. The more people read from the library, the more they also tend to buy from the bookstore. It tends to be a synergistic relationship.

On a related note, Central Connecticut State University President Jack Miller put out his annual Most Literate Cities study, which looks at what literary resources are available and used.

From a USA Today article on this year's study:

The findings come at a time when newspaper circulations across the USA are declining, and online newspaper reading is increasing. Miller's analysis suggests that, contrary to conventional wisdom, the availability of free online news is not to blame for the decline in newspapers' print circulation -- and that neither is the decline in bookstores across the country caused by the rise in online book buying.

Cities that ranked higher for having more bookstores also have a higher proportion of people buying books online, the analysis found, and cities with newspapers that have high per-capita circulation rates also have more people reading newspapers online. Likewise, cities that ranked higher for having well-used libraries also have more booksellers.

So I don't think it's necessarily that people are actually choosing to read their news online instead of subscribe to a traditional newspaper. I think more people are just not reading in general and may happen across news online as they do other things--but that isn't the point of their Internet usage.

And if we aren't reading, will that leave us with just television reporters? :O


Submission + - Microsoft Castigated over stolen Xbox360

tlhIngan writes: "I'm no Microsoft fan, but a recent article from New Zealand castigates Microsoft for not providing details in a timely fashion over a stolen Xbox 360. The console was stolen sans brick... er, power supply. The thief goes and calls Microsoft support to get a new power supply sent. Victim of theft calls Microsoft to report theft, and finds out the Xbox360 was registered by the thief. Police ask Microsoft to hand over the thief's details, but Microsoft refuses until a court order is obtained. The article blames Microsoft, saying if they just rolled over and handed the information over, everything would've gone much more quickly, but they had the gall to demand a court order. Crook or not, there is something inherently wrong when police can just demand information without going through due process, and even hated companies like Microsoft get flamed over their insistence on process."

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