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Comment Re:What's the point? (Score 1) 158

If gamers violate the EULA, companies sue them...."Don't violate copyright law" would work as well as EULAs and the law, if all companies want is copyright protection.

They don't, of course.

Doctorow's EULA can't go out the door as it is for one simple reason: It doesn't have a statement about liability. The cleanest EULA I can think of would say:

  1. This is copyrighted material,
  2. It is subject to copyright laws,
  3. The copyright went into effect on ______,
  4. We hold the copyright.
  5. Use it (or don't) at your own risk, because nothing that happens (or fails to happen) is our fault in any way.

Much better, though personally I think it should include a statement like

All copyrights on this work will expire no later than _____. Copyright status can be checked at http://_______.___/

Comment Re:The Ammendment (Score 1) 767

I wonder, which part of "nor shall be compelled" did the honorable judge not understand?

Probably the part where the defendant had already shown the kiddie porn to the border patrol. He had already testified against himself. Remember that bit in the Miranda warning about "anything you say can be held against you?"

Border patrol: Do you have any kiddie porn?
Defendant: Yep. Here it is on this scrambled partition I will now provide you access to.
Border patrol: You're under arrest for the kiddie porn.
Laptop: It is now safe to turn off your computer.
Laptop: What porn?
Defendant: Yeah, what porn?
Border patrol: The porn you willingly showed us yesterday.
Defendant: I won't show you what's on that scrambled partition.
Judge: By showing it to us before you demonstrated that you were willing to let us see it. Saying yes once means yes forever. Kinda like rape.

It was a very narrow ruling.

Comment The Soul of a New Machine (Score 2, Interesting) 534

There's an amazing book called The Soul of a New Machine, which follows the team developing of the Eclipse MV/8000 computer at Data General in the late 1970s. One of the designers quit after spending weeks on end chasing down a hardware problem where signals were falling out of sync by mere nanoseconds. His resignation letter was a note he left on his monitor: "I'm going to a commune in Vermont and will deal with no unit of time shorter than a season."

I'm a software guy and the book gave me a bit of perspective on what hardware people do.

Comment Re:Reactive vs. Proactive (Score 1) 685

There is nothing more professionally satisfying than having a company tell you they're replacing you with a (generally Indian) Outsourcing firm (having been advised to do so by HR)

Somewhat more personally satisfying is when your old boss calls you and asks in a shaky voice "We just found out nobody's been changing tapes like you used to do every morning and, um, there was this crash...Uh, how do we get all our clients' data back?" and you get to tell them that:

  1. Ignoring two weeks of "insert tape 2" e-mails was a bad thing,
  2. You'd documented all backup and recovery procedures in a binder in the IT bookcase, and
  3. They're unambiguously screwed.

And I don't know what the schadenfreude equivalent of an orgasm would be like but surely you will, a few months later, when you see their corporate obituary in the San Jose Mercury News...

Comment Re:It's not so bad (Score 1) 685

If the network or all the computers are down then people can not get their work doen and big $$$ are lost very quickly.

In a modern society there are plenty of professions that can make this claim. Truck drivers, farmers, plumbers, power company linesmen, and so forth.

In IT, we're plumbers. Some of us also design plumbing systems, but the only time we're called on or even noticed is when the shit gets backed up. But we're not the reason the company exists. We're there to help the business side of the house achieve its goals. So we get called when the people who make money for the company are unable to make the money because their IT ain't working.

That said there's plenty of folks who see IT as nothing more than a cost center, something that subtracts from, rather than adds to, the bottom line. When they do that, there's resentment, there's the urge to see us as a cost that can or should be cut rather than something that contributes to the company's success.

I wish I knew the source of this quote:

The society which scorns excellence in plumbing as a humble activity and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy... neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water.

I think a company's non-IT staff can get that way, scorning their on-staff plumbers because what we do "isn't important." But we plumbers do the same thing, looking as the company as a host organism that exists to give us something to do. Makes us sound kinda...parasitic, don't it?

Comment For an individual or for a rec room? (Score 1) 823

Are you building a computer that'll be used by many people, or a computer for just one person? An individual's computer has to to persist user data and configuration for months or years, which means you have to configure the OS rather robustly and defensively, because while some of the age 70+ newbies I've dealt with are super-sharp, the rest have been too trusting of the computer and the Internet it connects them to. They go online and click on every ad, every popup, every possible anything. Next thing you know they've volunteered their system into every botnet under the sun and can't figure out why their Yahoo! bridge game is crashing and there's all these naked ladies popping up out of nowhere.

For computers owned by individuals, my recommendation is to sandbox things as well as possible. Get a firewalling router, a software firewall, and aggressive virus scanning and trojan detection. Give them Firefox, install or subscribe to a phishing/scam detection system. Get them a Gmail account. If they've never been exposed to Windows, consider Ubuntu or a Mac. But please respect their ability to learn while allowing for the possibility for mistakes. Same as any newbie-friendly environment.

For computers in the rec room, you can protect them from viruses and trojan damage very simply: Every night at 2:00 AM the computer reboots and reinstalls a clean OS image from a master copy somewhere. I don't know how good Windows is at this, but under Linux it's trivial: Set up a VM (even a Windows VM!), and cron a job that kills the VM, overwrites the image file, then starts the VM (maybe in full-screen mode?). You still want a firewall etc, but the scope of most newbie-inflicted damage will be the rest of the day, not the rest of the system's operational lifetime.


Politician Forces German Wikipedia Off the Net 569

Stephan Schulz writes "A German Member of parliament for a left-wing party, Lutz Heilmann, has obtained a preliminary injunction against the local chapter of the Wikimedia foundation, Wikimedia Deutschland e.V., forbidding the forwarding of the popular http://wikipedia.de to the proper http://de.wikipedia.org. Apparently Heilmann is not happy with the fact that his Wikipedia article (English version) contains information on his work for the former GDR Stasi, the much-hated internal secret service. Wikimedia Germany displays a page explaining the situation, and has announced that it will file an objection to get the injunction lifted. The German Wikipedia has more than 800,000 pages, and is hosted, like all Wikimedia projects, by the Florida-based Wikimedia Foundation, and hence beyond the effective reach of at least German politicians and judges."

Unhappy People Watch More TV 193

Hugh Pickens writes "A new study by sociologists at the University of Maryland concludes that unhappy people watch more TV, while people who describe themselves as 'very happy' spend more time reading and socializing. 'TV doesn't really seem to satisfy people over the long haul the way that social involvement or reading a newspaper does,' says researcher John P. Robinson. 'It's more passive and may provide escape — especially when the news is as depressing as the economy itself. The data suggest to us that the TV habit may offer short-run pleasure at the expense of long-term malaise.' Unhappy people also liked their TV more: 'What viewers seem to be saying is that while TV in general is a waste of time and not particularly enjoyable, "the shows I saw tonight were pretty good."' The researchers analyzed two sets of data spanning nearly 30 years (PDF), gathered from nearly 30,000 adults, and found that unhappy people watch an estimated 20 percent more television than very happy people, after taking into account their education, income, age, and marital status — as well as other demographic predictors of both viewing and happiness. 'TV can become a kind of opiate in a way. It's habitual, and tuning in can be an easy way of tuning out.'"

Submission + - SCO Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

theonetruekeebler writes: The SCO Group has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection:

"We want to assure our customers and partners that they can continue to rely on SCO products, support and services for their business critical operations," said Darl McBride, President and CEO, The SCO Group. "Chapter 11 reorganization provides the Company with an opportunity to protect its assets during this time while focusing on building our future plans."

Submission + - Credit Card security: Who pays for breaches?

PetManimal writes: "A scheme to steal customers' credit and debit card information at a New England supermarket chain highlights a little-understood fact about credit card security: Customers still think that the credit-card companies have to eat fraudulent charges, but since PCI DSS standards were adopted, it's actually the merchant banks and merchants who have to pay up. And, according to the author of the last article, it's a good thing:

The main reason PCI exists is that there are tens of thousands of merchants who don't understand the basics of information security and weren't even taking the very minimum steps to secure their networks and the credit card information they stored. ... PCI pushes that burden downstream and forces merchants to take on a preventative role rather than a reactive role. They have to put in a properly configured firewall, encrypt sensitive information and maintain a minimum security stance or be fined by their merchant banks. By forcing this to be an issue about prevention rather than reaction, the credit card companies have taken the bulk of the financial burden off of themselves and placed it on the merchants, which is where much of it belongs anyways.

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