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Comment Re:I'd like to solve the puzzle, Pat (Score 1) 151

I guess they figure that if you have the courage to try to learn it, and speak it, you don't need to prove any valour beyond that.

I suppose it stems from the fact that German is known to be pretty complicated to learn, especially when English is your mother tongue.

I have seen the film clip where Kennedy says, "Ich bin ein Berliner!", but all of the crowd knew what he wanted to say, and so it was no problem.

Actually, JFK had a quite remarkable pronounciation. He could not entirely conceal his American accent, but managed to get his tongue round very well. However, the crowd reacted with such enthusiasm because two years before JFK's speech, the East Germans had started constructing the Berlin Wall isolating West Berlin. And at this climax of the Cold War, an American president declaring his solidarity in such an emotional way was something West Berliners were really pining after.

Comment Re:Hitler assassination plot (Score 1) 1270

Sadly enough, those courageous people did not receive much support from the Allies. In fact, the Allied High Command demanded an unconditional surrender which gave the group of July 20th not much room for manoeuver. Furthermore, it's clear that this group was not a team of democratic people. The common factor was that they wanted get rid of the Nazi apparatus, but many of them approved an autocratic state.

And, oh, if I chose to go back in time, I would rather keep the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria from happening. This could have probably the effect of preventing WWI and WWII. Nevertheless, many problems of that time, like a latent anti-semitism and autocratic tendencies would still leave Europe like a powder keg.

Comment Re:If Microsoft did this... (Score 1) 548

Do you actually know that Microsoft doesn't? At least product activation and update services have to "phone home" regularly, and you can't tell what information is being transmitted. So if Canonical uses a piece of software that
  • everyone is able turn off easily,
  • works in a transparent way so that every user can acutally view the collected data if (s)he wants to,
  • does not only come in binary form,
  • does not collect personal data or personal data can be excluded easily

why should we all expect a major uproar?

Anyway, given these prequesites, I'd voluntary install this piece of software. But this would mean a tough job. I know many Ubuntu-users who associate "transparency" with a userfriendly gui, whereas most of the experienced users would prefer a CLI. Therefore the application should be completely manageable through the console as well as through a GUI. The display of the collected and transmitted data has to be accessable both ways, too. Microsoft does - on the other hand - not have applications to manage product activation and updates which comply with the mentionned criteria. So - once again - I believe that it would cause a greater buzz if MS did this.



Comment Re:More than 10 years ago? (Score 1) 505

I stopped buying 3,5" floppies for daily use approximately 10 years ago because of 2 reasons. First, I bought a Iomega ZIP-drive and some ZIP-100 disks and second, I had around 50 floppy disks containing everything I needed for (re)installing my system as well as personal backups. So, who says one has to go from floppies directly to flash memory?

Comment Re:Getting through the university barrier in the U (Score 1) 252

Interesting. Why should a student deliver a file in some MS Office-format? Our students have to deliver their diploma thesis on a disk/cd together with a printed version. This is because the faculty employs some software solution to track down plagiarism. But nobody is told to give us DOC-files, as PDF (or even plain text) is absolutely sufficient. I could not figure out a single reason why one should want to have a DOC-file apart from the desire to copy/paste usable paragraphs!

Comment Re:If you consider... (Score 1) 252

Well, I also considered that. But in my experience, StarOffice has never really moved away from its niche. It was heavily promoted by a large number of magazines and put on CDs in the pre-broadband area. During my time at a big German university, I met only one person using StarOffice... it was my girlfriend who switched after MS Word had fried her diploma thesis. Oddly enough, after being bought by sun, the number of OpenOffice-users among my co-students rose sharply. Most of these new users don't even known the ancestry of their new tool up to now. My colleagues here at the chair of production economics (I work for a different university now) mostly used OpenOffice for the first time, when I installed it onto every single PC we have. Most of these colleagues ignored it until some of us used it to produce our new textbook (900 pages of text, hundreds of figures and tables, thousands of formulas) without a single crash. It surely impressed them but sadly not enough to switch... I am still the only one using it for writing my thesis....

Comment Re:Who will fix the problem? (Score 3, Insightful) 213

Well, at least the intended mechanism will make sure that people notice that their PC is abused. Furthermore, it imposes pressure on people to care about some basic security measures. I think, many of them will soon take care - in whatever way. But if they refuse to realize that their data is in trouble and that they are (passively) involved in online crimes, why not shut down their net access? Someone who does not exactly know what to do will know the shop where (s)he bought the equipment or even a local shop that offers paid support - there is no excuse in that case.

I've made some similar experience on my own some years ago while living on campus connected to a network of about 1,000 machines. The admins enforced a "three strikes" directive: if someone's machine was spreading viruses via internet access or via FTP/SMB shares or misbehaved in other ways (disturbing the DHCP and break-in attempts on internal servers, mainly), (s)he got a notice in her/his (real life!) post box to stop misbehaving/to fix the computer. As I recall, the note contained a paragraph offering help in case people weren't able to cope with the problem themselves. They only had to block less that 10 Machines during the time I lived there (4 years, approx.), as people really reacted quickly and we could even observe a (small) learning curve because new inhabitants mostly were briefed by their neighbours shortly after they had moved in.

So: Go ahead, Aussie ISPs! That's definitely the way to go - and to further sysadmin appreciation, but that's a different piece of.....

Comment Re:Pizza Hut in Germany (Score 1) 920

That's awkward because Pizza Hut's German ads say that they are making "American pizza". I can't tell having not been to the US yet, but one thing is definitely true: German Pizza Hut pizzas are distinct from the average pizza Italian restaurants make in Germany. The difference seems to be the dough, which most restaurants serve really thin and crusty; the main ingredients (tomatoes, mozzarella, vegetables, salami) are mostly fresh when you buy pizza in Germany. My favourite pizza is made by a Greek restaurant around my corner, but that's a different piece of ... you know :-)

Comment Re:Schadenfreude (Score 1) 241

Essentially you're saying that a German citizen can only freely express themselves in a way the government deems appropriate.

I think you miss the essential point here: Germany was fortunately liberated in 1944/45 by the Allies. The Allies enforced the process of Denazification, which envolved several actions, first and foremost the removal of Nazi symbolism of official buildings, renaming of streets and places which the Nazis had given names of their own (mostly Hitler's). The Allies were keen to prevent any uprising of Nazi terror once and for all. So, since 1949, the year when both German states were founded, the Germans (in the West as well as in the East) decided to make it a prime directive of their policy to keep fascism down. So, your freedom of speech in Germany is protected by the state, as long as you do not praise Nazism or deny the existence of the Holocaust. That's it. And the reason is not censorship as such, but a very special, mostly German and Austrian, responsibility to keep a promise that was given after 1945: not to let facism rise a again on German soil.

From what I can tell Germany's general legislation seems to be more of a "Think of the children!" rather then focused on liberty.

The fact that children aren't allowed to buy/consume things that adults may, is a quite different discussion. For example, people under 18 aren't allowed to consume pornography as well as hard alcoholic beverages (beer is allowed for everyone under 17, hey they're the Germans :-) ). I think, you would call it a violation of the freedom of speech, when your six-year old is kept from buying a bunch of sex-magazines on his way home from school.
Nazi symbolism is forbidden for any German, regardless of age, sex, profession, belief, etc. It may only depicted for educational reasons (museums or historic textbooks, as far as I know). The spreading of "Mein Kampf", Hitler's first book, is for example not forbidden by the state, but of the current copyright holder.

By the way: Have you ever been Germany or Europe, at least?

Comment Re:Schadenfreude (Score 1) 241

I've said it once and I'll say it again: Germany is not a free country.

Alright. Let's have a look at the German constitution (Grundgesetz, basic law, they call it). I retrieved an official English translation for it via Wikipedia, quote:

  1. (1) Human dignity shall be inviolable. To respect and protect it shall be the duty of all state authority.
  2. (2) The German people therefore acknowledge inviolable and inalienable human rights as the basis of every community, of peace and of justice in the world.
  3. (3) The following basic rights shall bind the legislature, the executive and the judiciary as directly applicable law.

As every governmental decision has to obey to this fundamental rule, why should Germany not be "a free country"? What you say about Nazis is in fact not true. It's quite the opposite: If you spread Nazi ideology you may soon face some time in jail, but not if you protest against neo-Nazism. The censorship of videogames is mainly related to a certain law which forbids to show Nazi-symbols, like the swastika. So, if you want to sell a game there, leave them out, and it can be sold. How could law differentiate between videogames and propaganda posters and allow video games to show those symbols while keeping neo-Nazi propaganda from doing so?

I'd say you depict Germany in a really distorted way. Deducting non-freedom from special Nazi-related laws is a little far fetched, imho.

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