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Comment Newsreels (Score 5, Informative) 348

It is happening as we speak.

Mid-20th century newsreels--an important history of the time--are sitting on shelves in film canisters, quietly disintegrating.

There are people who would like to copy them forward onto durable media, but they can't because the newsreels are copyrighted, but the copyright holders either can't be located or aren't interested in preserving them.

They will be dust long before they enter the public domain.

Comment It's not a bargain, it's a tradeoff (Score 1) 367

With good reason, the people of the United States -- through judges and law enforcement -- can invade our private spaces," Comey said, adding that that "bargain" has been at the center of the country since its inception

It's not a bargain, it's a tradeoff.

A bargain is something you strike with some other party that has something you want. You give them something; they give you something.

There is no other party here. It's our society; our country; our government. We make the rules. We face a (putative) tradeoff between privacy and security. It is entirely on us how we make that tradeoff.

Comment My theory, which is mine (Score 1) 167

I've thought about this.
How did a catastrophe like PHP come to be so widely used?
I've come up with two answers.

1. Historical accident
There was a need for a PHP-like language to write web back-ends. It could have been Perl, or Python, or PHP, or Ruby, or probably any of a hundred others. At some point, some language gains critical mass. Then everyone uses it because everyone uses it, and we're off to the races. Which language is first to critical mass is--at least somewhat--a matter of chance. As it happens, it was PHP.

2. The default behavior of the language processor is to emit the entire program text on STDOUT.
What this means is that you can take an entire existing static web site--a whole tree of static HTML pages--declare them to be PHP scripts, et voila, there is your web site, just like it was before, except that now you can start adding $variables to your pages and creating dynamic content. It gives managers and salesmen and marketing people and non-programmers a way to get into the game without actually having to do any of that--you know--programming stuff.

Calling this an easy learning curve misapprehends the situation. It is more in the "this one weird trick" category.

The actual PHP learning curve is vertical, which is to say, no one can learn PHP. The language is such a tangled mass of inconsistencies, exceptions, breakage and lossage that acquiring the knowledge necessary to use it competently is virtually impossible.

Comment It's just talk (Score 1) 316

AllFlicks conducted a survey...90% said...

Until Netflix actually starts showing ads, it's just talk.

If Netflix does start showing ads, then people either will or will not cancel.
That is true market data, which is very cool.

Market data is difficult to acquire and valuable to have.
If Netflix does this experiment, they probably won't be posting the results on Slashdot.

Comment Not going to happen (Score 1) 247

the only way Windows will become truly stable [...] will be for it to adopt a UNIX architecture

Not going to happen.

I left Windows years ago, partly for the reason that the OS was so badly engineered.

It's not a bug, it's a feature.

Microsoft needs lock-in to maintain their monopoly, and lock-in needs incompatibility.

An OS is its architecture.
If Windows adopts a Unix architecture, then Windows becomes Unix.
If Windows becomes Unix, then customers have their choice: Windows, Linux, BSD, whatever.
No more lock-in, no more monopoly, no more Microsoft.

And the "badly engineered" part? Well, Unix OSs tend to be well engineered. And if the defining characteristic of Windows is that it is incompatible with well engineered OSs, then pretty much of necessity Windows is going to be badly engineered.

Comment Issue? What issue? (Score 4, Insightful) 224

Microsoft is yet to address the issue

There is no issue.
There is nothing to address.
Windows 10 upgrade is doing what Microsoft wants it to do: maximizing the number of machines running Windows 10.

Think about it this way.
If you pay a vendor for something, then--at some level--that vendor will serve you.
If you do not pay a vendor for their product, then that vendor does not serve you. They may serve some other revenue stream, like advertising, or some kind of big-data analytics that they hope to sell, but they definitely do not serve you. If you are not paying for the product, then you are collateral damage, or prey, or fodder: something to be harvested and packaged for resale.

Somewhere in Microsoft is a VP who is in charge of the Windows 10 upgrade.
This VP has been told that his bonus, or stock options, or possibly his job is dependent on getting X million Windows 10 installs, or X million installs per month, or something. He doesn't care how many people are inconvenienced, or lose data, or have their machines bricked. He doesn't care how much bad PR Microsoft gets, or how much bad trade press, or how many outraged Slashdot comments there are. All he cares about is making his number. And this is going to continue until the CEO goes to this VP and changes his performance objectives.

Deal with it.

(Linux works for me. YMMV.)

Comment Charged with believing a story (Score 5, Insightful) 121

I have a real problem with this case.

Suppose it was an undercover drug deal. The cops sell him X grams of cocaine in exchange for $1500 in bitcoins. Then they charge him with buying drugs. When it comes to trial, he pleads that he didn't know they were cops; he never would have bought the drugs if he knew they were cops. Does this matter? Not at all. Buying drugs is illegal. It doesn't matter who he bought them from, or whether he knew they were cops.

Now suppose his attorney say OK, let's see the drugs. And the cops dutifully produce a bag of white powder, and they send it out to be tested, and the test shows that it is 100% primo Dominos 10X confectioner's sugar. And his lawyer says, "Hey! He's charged with buying drugs; where are the drugs?" And the cops say, "Oh, you know, it's such a hassle checking out drugs from the evidence locker; all this paper work; all these forms; god help you if it comes back a gram light... We just went down to store and bought some powdered sugar. But it doesn't matter: we told him it was drugs; he obviously thought it was drugs or he wouldn't have paid $1500 for it." Does this matter? Absolutely. It doesn't matter what he thought: he did not do the illegal thing that he is charged with: he did not buy drugs. He walks.

Now look at this case. The cops paid him $1500 cash for bitcoins. They told him they were going to buy stolen credit cards with the bitcoins. Now maybe, if they had actually bought stolen credit cards with the bitcoins, they could have charged him with being some kind of accessory to that crime. But they didn't. There was no crime. There were never any credit cards. There wasn't even a bag of white powder. All they've got is a story. A story that he believed. Or not. Maybe he didn't know whether it was true. Maybe he didn't care. Sure, sure, you guys want to be leet haxorz buying credit cards? You got $1500 cash you can be James Bond, you can be Tony Stark, whatever.

I do not understand how this guy gets charged in connection with a crime that did not occur.

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