Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?
DEAL: For $25 - Add A Second Phone Number To Your Smartphone for life! Use promo code SLASHDOT25. Also, Slashdot's Facebook page has a chat bot now. Message it for stories and more. Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! ×

Comment Re:Can't secede, America is fractal (Score 1) 1368

If California would have implemented universal health care for the people in their state then there would never have been this huge fight over obamacare. Same with a host of other issues.

This is absolutely true, but there's a big constitutional stumbling block. Or, more precisely, a big practical stumbling block imposed by a constitutional requirement: the Privileges and Immunities clause of Article IV (not to be confused with the Privileges or Immunities clause of the 14th amendment. Note the conjunction).

Any state that implements its own universal health care must provide the same privilege to all citizens of all states that it provides to its own. It's well-established that this doesn't mean California would have to provide services to people living and being treated in Delaware, and it probably doesn't mean California would have to provide free health care to Delaware residents visiting California, but it absolutely does mean that a Delaware resident who moves to California and becomes a resident of California must be eligible for free health care.

If all states implemented something roughly equivalent that wouldn't matter. But if California did it alone, it would immediately become a magnet for the nation's sick people. There would be an incentive for people to even plan their lives that way: "I'm gonna live where taxes are low while I'm young and healthy and if I ever get a chronic illness or just get to where my medical expenses are rising, I'll move to California". So California's costs would go through the roof since they'd end up footing the bill for much of the rest of the country as well. That wouldn't work.

Comment Re:The Civil War settled that question (Score 1) 1368

No, what the Civil War settled was that you can't secede if the rest of the country is willing to go to war to stop you. Are we? I'm not so sure we are, these days.

After reading goodmanj's post just below, and all of the excellent points he raises which I had never considered, I take that back. I'm absolutely certain we'd be willing to go to war over all of the issues that he raises.

Comment Re:The Civil War settled that question (Score 1) 1368

And it did so permanently. Once you become a state, you can't "unjoin", secede or leave. End of story.

No, what the Civil War settled was that you can't secede if the rest of the country is willing to go to war to stop you. Are we? I'm not so sure we are, these days.

Also, while I don't know if this applies to California, some of the later states to join the union actually did so under contracts that specified various requirements that the union had to fulfill. In such cases, if the union violates its side of the bargain, it seems like the state in question has a perfect legal right to secede, based on recognized federal *and* international contract law. There was a lot of talk a few years ago (before the DC vs Heller decision) about the Wyoming state legislature debating secession on the grounds that it appeared the federal government was violating right to keep and bear arms provisions in the contract under which they entered the union. The Heller decision mostly ended that discussion.

Comment Re:Don't think it'll happen (Score 1) 1368

Good points but you're ignoring the biggest dangers from his campaign promises... his proposed protectionist and isolationist policies. And those are going to be hard for him to back away from because they really were the central core of his populist appeal, especially the protectionism.

Specifically, he has promised to abrogate numerous trade pacts and negotiate "better deals", by which he seems to mean protectionist deals. If he does, the US economy will almost certainly take a huge hit, partly because his better deals won't actually be better, but mostly because the world economy will take an enormous hit. Although globalization has upset a lot of American voters because they believe it injured them personally, they fail to realize just how important it is to the economy as a whole, and therefore how much it indirectly helped them personally. They will learn, if Trump follows through.

With regard to isolationism, he has mentioned the possibility of withdrawing from NATO and other key alliances (though none is remotely as important as NATO), which has the potential to seriously destabilize the none-too-stable world. Then there are the reports about his belief that we should be more willing to use nukes as part of our standard military offensive toolkit, which is downright terrifying.

Comment Re:Paying to Opt Out? (Score 1) 149

Do you really believe that if Google accepts your money in exchange for not tracking you, that it will violate that contract? Of course, "not tracking" would have to be spelled out precisely, but I think it's reasonable to expect that any major corporation will abide by the terms it signs up to, even those that aren't as high-minded as Google. The consequences of violating contracts are too severe.

this applies doubly in their case since user profiling is such a core part of the business model.

It's actually not. It's a core part of the business model for some services, and those are Google's largest services, but it's not in any way core to the company's overall business model. Advertising is just one monetization approach. My perception is that the leadership has never been very happy with the approach, actually. I know that Page and Brin refused to consider advertising as a business model for some time, until they hit on the idea that if it was both relevant and unobtrusive that perhaps it could actually provide value to users. Many, many employees are also a little uncomfortable with it, including me -- and what the employees think does matter in Google, quite a bit.

If Contributor were to become sufficiently popular that it provided a real alternative revenue stream, I think Google would be more than happy to embrace it wholeheartedly, and would be completely untroubled by the potential for leaving money on the table. I'm less certain that contract language could be written that would both make the lawyers comfortable and would convince skeptical readers, but it's not completely impossible.

What I honestly expect, though, is that Contributor will never attract enough subscribers to justify much effort, because while there are a small number of people who feel very strongly about the issue, the vast majority don't care.

Comment Re:Paying to Opt Out? (Score 1) 149

It may say "fewer" because not all ads are served by Google and they can't promise that you'll see no ads. It works like an ad blocker except that you must be logged into Google and tracked in order for it to work. That's way too intrusive for my tastes, even if I had logged into Google in the last few years.

"Logged in" does not necessarily imply "tracked". The login can be taken as an explicit signal not to record any information about the request. I don't know if Contributor does that but if it were clear that there were sufficient demand for it, it could.

Comment Re: Losing Attorney is BSing (Score 1) 357

Where I disagree with the FSF is when they say that dynamically linking to GPL'd libraries also makes your program a derivative work. Whether your program needs the library depends entirely on the design of your program, so it's a bit of a gray area, but the process of dynamic linking is not far removed from simply loading and running a program.

That would make every program you run (!) a "derivative work" of the operating system, which is patently ridiculous.

Programmers tend to analyze legal codes the way they think about software. Computers are perfectly literal and pedantic, and the notion of reasonableness, or consideration of questions of context or fairness have absolutely no bearing in how they execute their code. But legal codes are executed by humans, and human judges are explicitly tasked with considering reasonableness, context and fairness, at least to some degree. They try to balance this with careful analysis of the text of the law and legislative intent.

In the context of the GPL, you're absolutely right that "linking" (especially dynamic linking) is a fairly arbitrary place to draw the line about what constitutes a derived work. But when judges look at it, it seems like a reasonable and fair line, because in the context of the way computing systems operate today, it works. Judges recognize the fundamentally fair notion of "share and share alike" that the GPL attempts to embody, see that it's a good thing for the world, that GPL authors are acting in good faith to try to provide something of value under reasonable and well-intentioned terms, and that GPL violators are taking advantage and acting in bad faith. As such, they've -- very correctly, in my opinion -- chosen to overlook the technical deficiencies of the line drawn by the FSF, in favor of its fundamental fairness.

Comment Re:Umm no. (Score 1) 257

Not buying it. Google already places restrictions on them if they want to include Google Play services.

Compatibility requirements, yes, but that's it.

That is your leverage. Use it. Force them to submit drivers to AOSP or no Google Play Services.

So they'll just ally with Amazon, or set up their own consortium app store. It's not really that hard to replace what Google provides.

Comment Re:Umm no. (Score 1) 257

> (Google Android engineer here)

Can you please explain why a fix for Stagefright couldn't be rolled out directory to users devices?

Mediaserver, the component with the stagefright bugs, is a core OS component, part of the system image. The only way to upgrade it is to install a new system image.

The only things that can be updated via Google Play are apps, though the Android team has pulled some bits out that used to be part of the core OS and begin managing them as apps. For example, WebView.

It would seem that the relevant library was something which was very unlikely to have been customized in any way by a manufacturer.

Could Google consider dividing components into stuff which Google *will* upgrade at will and stuff it won't, minimizing the stuff manufacturers are responsible for?

Manufacturers make all sorts of changes, including deep in the system. I don't know if anyone has modified mediaserver, but I'd actually be surprised if no one has.

And why both making the claim in public that manufacturers must support all major versions of Android released within 18 months of the launch date of the phone/tablet and then not enforce that when Samsung consistantly totally fails to comply? Is it part of a contract Google can enforce or not?

I don't think there was any such claim, and I don't think Google can enforce it.

Comment Re:Umm no. (Score 2) 257

means that OEMs can heavily customize Android on their devices, and Google has little control over what they do. Google can't safely update devices running code to which it doesn't even have source,

OEMs heavily customize Windows on their desktops too

No, they don't. They install some apps. They have no access to the source code and can't make deep changes.

Comment Re:I'll pay for a Nexus (Score 1) 257

That is totally new to me, since I own a Nexus 5 (not a Nexus 5x, mind you, the original Nexus 5) and a Nexus 7 and both were updated a couple of weeks ago to Android 6.0.1, Security patch level May 2016.

Those devices won't get Android N (probably), but they should continue receiving security updates for a while.

Comment Re:Security issues, need a law to require updates (Score 1) 257

Look at car recalls, the same standard should be set for support of devices. If there is a system issue and a security update is needed the manufacture should be required to provide it no matter how old the device is.

That's not true of cars. Automakers are only required to provide recalls for 10 years. Sometimes they provide them for longer, especially with safety-critical issues, because it may be cheaper than dealing with a bunch of wrongful death suits, but they're legally obliged for only 10 years.

Shame on them for not making is safe/secure in the first place.

That's not realistic. There is no such thing as a modern computing system that is secure, and there never will be. With the exception of a very few research and aerospace, etc., systems, there never have been. Systems are just too complex, and the definition of "secure" isn't even well-defined. It changes all the time.

I'm not opposed to the idea of legally-mandated security updates, but it should be required for a shorter period of time than it is for cars, because mobile devices cost two orders of magnitude less, and it's pretty rare that a security problem in your phone might kill you. Actually, I think a usage-based approach makes more sense -- maybe require manufacturers to provide security fixes for two years or until there are less than, say, one million units in active use, whichever is longer.

Comment Re:Umm no. (Score 5, Informative) 257

Even Microsoft can make an OS that doesn't require the manufacturer's blessing to install updates. Google needs to fix the OS, not the OEMS.

(Google Android engineer here)

I wish that were possible. The fact is that the same thing that makes the Android ecosystem so powerful -- the fact that it *is* an ecosystem, based on open source code -- means that OEMs can heavily customize Android on their devices, and Google has little control over what they do. Google can't safely update devices running code to which it doesn't even have source, even if there weren't other technical and business obstacles. Google's only real lever is the Play store, which is what motivates OEMs to care about passing the compliance test suite, but even that can't be pushed too hard or OEMs will simply set up their own. Maybe in alliance with Amazon, who already has one.

IMO, though, users paying for updates is the wrong answer. The right answer is for OEMs to be pushed into publishing formal support policies, as Google has done for Nexus devices, and for users to consider those policies and be willing to pay a little more for devices with better support. I'm willing to pay a little more for a car with a better warranty, for example.

That said, if the market likes the idea of paid updates (which I doubt), that's cool. Maybe OEMs can give their code to third parties who sell "extended update policies" for users who wish to buy them. A one-time fee or subscription might be more palatable than paying for each update.

Comment Re:IBM PC BIOS (Score 1) 243

I'd love to see IBM take a swing at this one, seeing as the original decision that allowed non-IBM PC-compatible machines to be created turned on the question of whether creating a BIOS that exposed the exact same interface as IBM's BIOS infringed on IBM's copyright if all other code could be proven to be entirely original. Under this decision the answer would be "Yes.", and IBM would be owed damages for every single PC created using a non-IBM BIOS that had any trace of the legacy BIOS API in it (at a minimum every BIOS that wasn't completely UEFI-only).

Even more to the point: IBM created SQL. Had this gone the other way, it's not inconceivable that IBM could sue Oracle over its use of SQL.

Slashdot Top Deals

Your code should be more efficient!