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Everything posted by egochick

  1. Fall 2009

    Meeting Locations * 29 September, Squires 145 * 13 October, GBJ 104 * 27 October, Squires 145 * 10 November, Squires 145 *** NO meeting 24 November. Happy Thanksgiving! * 8 December, Squires 145
  2. Fall 2009

    Meeting Dates (every other Tuesday, 8pm, location TBA) * 29 September * 13 October * 27 October * 10 November * *** NO meeting 24 November. Happy Thanksgiving! * 8 December We're also on Facebook! And just in case I haven't put it out there, we run a blog for announcing meetings/topics. It's available here.
  3. Young People to Swarm Capitol With Green Agenda

    Thanks for the link! This convention is pretty heavily advertised here at Virginia Tech every year. However, like many conventions, there are options to go at little to no cost. Students generally don't have the type of cash to spare for a trip across country. Environmental activists are very well funded and DC is pretty. A lot of what I see in the green movement in school is the interest in massive public works projects. I don't think it means a damn to anyone whether it's new energy forms (hydro, solar, wind, nuclear, etc) or new infrastructure for transportation and communication, or who-knows-what-else. All of these projects are (at least) neat in the oooh-look-what-I-can-do way and are all extremely expensive. Public works projects appear to diffuse that cost and guarantee work for engineers. Well, there's your problem!
  4. Young People to Swarm Capitol With Green Agenda

    Is there a link that doesn't require me to register? Thanks!
  5. The GNU Virus

    Oooooooh, now I get the title of the thread! (xkcd) Now for the anecdotal evidence ... I haven't actually met any iconic super-irrational copyleft people. There's a good bit of overlap between the "nerdy" clubs on campus, so I've met quite a few people who identify themselves as copyleft from various computer-oriented fun. I understand not agreeing with one particular person of the movement, but the talking points are generally as follows: 1- It is wrong that law is bought by lobbyists with tons of money. 2- "Music didn't start with the phonograph and it won't end with the peer-to-peer networks." (source) This is true. It may change the production, distribution, and business model of music (just as the radio, the phonograph, and sheet music did before it), but it won't end music as such. Personally, I wouldn't mind the end of boy bands for more of this. This point is also expressed as protecting the buggy whip maker (RIAA/MPAA) when the car (internet) replaced the horse and carriage. 3- It is wrong to sue people for criminal damages for civil infractions. This is actually in court at the moment. The case name is Sony BMG Music v. Tenenbaum. 4- Copyrights lasting life+70 years or 95 years from publication (works for hire) is unreasonable. Also unreasonable is the PTO approving at best ill-researched patents. Patents as hindering further innovation is another, usually related, argument. While I prefer to use open-source software, I'm not against people using proprietary software (and still use the proprietary nVidia driver myself). Open source is for capitalists too. It's important to know that the FSF isn't the only (and certainly not the biggest) player on the software playground, just as much as knowing Microsoft isn't the only choice you have either.
  6. The GNU Virus

    PhilO, I think you mean GPLv3. The Linux kernel is currently licensed under GPLv2 and has been since v3 came out a few years ago. There hasn't been much in the way of adoption of GPLv3, just judging by browsing the repositories I have installed (Fedora 10 Stable free and nonfree, RPMFusion stable free and nonfree). Most of what I see is still GPLv2, v2+, MIT, and BSD. (source)I like the peaceful and happy co-existence option, myself.
  7. The GNU Virus

    Wow, when I first read the title I actually got concerned that there was some zero-day flaw in a common Linux app and that maybe my box was vulnerable. (While Linux malware does exist, it's pretty hard to come by accidentally.) I'm glad to hear it's just someone angry at the FSF. One of the nice things about free software is that people have different ideas of what is and is not free/of-good-quality/moral and depending on geography, legal. While these differences lead to a lot of bickering, no one is stuck with the decision of Redmond and/or Cupertino, or any other developer for that matter. If you don't like how something is done, you can change it. I think there's a bit of misunderstanding of Stallman's position in the Linux community. It isn't as though he is standing at the gateway to the repositories I have installed saying "No, you can't install that proprietary software." While the FSF encourages people to use their definition of free software, it isn't forcing people to do things their way - like Apple deciding who can and can't distribute applications for the iPhone. They also try to persuade people to drop patent and DRM encumbered media formats altogether, instead of using the hodgepodge of questionably legal workarounds that exists in Linux today. They tend to be viewed as quixotic at best. I certainly think Fedora / Red Hat and Debian are quite free, for example. If you don't like GPL license terms, don't use the code. How about looking at the other software licenses? There are only dozens more.
  8. Gates' Latest Backwards Step

    This isn't exactly the first time Bill Gates has released a bunch of bugs into the general populace ... However, there is a huge difference in the blue screen of death and the transmission of blood-born illness for a publicity stunt. Now to don my skeptic's hat and ask how we know it isn't just another stage trick? You can't actually see mosquitoes on stage from the audience. So are we to go on word alone? It seems to be a total lack of common sense to release disease carriers into an audience - not impossible, I'm just a bit hard to believe this rather sensationalist news.
  9. 1) Don't take this point too seriously, as it is just anecdotal evidence, but I thought I'd mention it and ask for more observation. Most people aren't vegetarian or vegan or raw-foodist or any other derivative I missed. Most dietary preferences of people I know are for religious reasons or dislike for the taste of certain meats. (I'm sure some people actually study this stuff too). 2) There are far more pet owners than people who equate pets with slavery. On the subject of pets and slavery, anyone who has ever owned a cat knows the cat's opinion on who is slave and who is master ... 3) The breeding, raising, transportation, slaughter, and processing of animal products is already highly regulated. There are also animal cruelty laws that are more enforced than is publicized. 4) Making it illegal doesn't mean it won't exist. (I'm thinking of that South Park episode where cats were outlawed, but insert your own example here.) That's not great news, but it may cheer up the pessimistic side of us all.
  10. Bioshock: the chickens coming home to roost

    The bad guys are bad because they hurt people (and both Ryan and Fontaine are bad), and you the player are good or bad depending solely on whether or not you harm the little girls. It was a fun game, but the story didn't live up to the hype. Maybe I'm a bit sour, but I heard of the game several years before release date and it was going to be the next System Shock or Deus Ex - which it isn't. I know there were some thinking it might be a truly Objectivist game with high production values and large audience. Through the pre-release hype, it looked to be that from time to time. The end product is nothing of the sort. While I understand being upset over the use of Objectivism in a video game, I found the usage to be pretty petty. The usage of "Objectivism" (it isn't in a recognizable form) is a superficial touch to a common theme (founding a community based in ideals, separate from the rest of the world) to convey a few things the player may think about if they're perceptive enough to pick up on it. The core plot values aren't specifically pro- or anti- Objectivist, nor do they say anything about Objectivism.
  11. Haunted by the Past

    (link)So there you go, two nice bits and two not so nice bible bits. You can take anything you want out of the bible and testament to justify anything you want. However, to call it the word of god would be no more accurate than calling Wikipedia divine. Anyone can edit the word of god.
  12. Confessions of an apostate mac user

    I'm not sure "Apple" and "superior" should be used in the same sentence unless in the context of fruit, especially when they pull crap like this. It is not illegal to run Apple software on non-Apple hardware yet. There is currently a lawsuit in court over a 3rd party manufacturer (Psystar) making cheap Apple clones with OS X pre-installed. There is no resolution yet, but here is the current state of it all. But if you absolutely must, you can run OS X on PC hardware using Kalyway (just browse a torrent tracker and you'll find it). Here is a quick how-to guide. Anyways, it is really easy to get a good number of Windows apps to run "natively" in linux via Wine. Here is the database to all the applications that are known to work perfectly, with a few bugs, or not at all (and what version of Wine and linux used, how it got to work, etc.) I'd recommend using a more common distribution (Fedora or Ubuntu) if you plan to go this route, since the amount of testing/support is generally proportional to number of users. Personally, I choose to use Sun VirtualBox to run the Windows applications I need for school. It's free and cross-platform, available for most common linux distributions. However, you need to have a Windows license for your Windows virtual PCs (most schools have volume license agreements) and virtualization usually isn't the best solution for playing video games. I use TinyXP to save on resources in a virtual PC, despite owning several copies of Windows XP.
  13. Not to be particularly cynical over Quixotic quests, but if the Estate of Ayn Rand could actually persuade the Pirate Bay to take down a torrent, they could make more money than god by licensing those magical words to the MPAA/RIAA. They've been trying to shut down distributed file sharing, and the Pirate Bay in particular, for years. They even got the Pirate Bay shut down for a few days in 2006 by sending in the police to sack the entire data center, but they were operational again within a few days. No cloud is without a silver lining. The works of Ayn Rand have enough sustained interest to be pirated. Think of how many people will be exposed to the ideas that might not have been. Several large publishers (TOR, for instance) offer free (and DRM free) ebooks and find it boosts sales. I've bought just about every book I've read online. If I read it and like it, I would rather read it in print. Besides, if her work is in the public domain, then we'll all have to get used to misrepresentation, misquotes, and rather creative libel. Yes, it "can be freely copied, quoted, translated, wiki-fied, analyzed, argued about, stored on millions of electronic devices, transcribed onto etched superalloy sheets (one of my ideas) that would last millions of years, and searched all around the internet." However, it won't always be favorable or even accurate. The choice of whether to put works into the public domain is what is important to advance Objectivism. This instance at the Pirate Bay is a perfect example. Allowing it to be in the public domain means that you can do nothing legally about it - no copyright infringement, no libel, nothing. Anyone can selectively edit any works in any way they want or create new works with the same 'universe.' (I'm not opposed to Atlas Shrugged fanfic, but maybe it's just being into scifi where it's common ...) Is it worth dealing with crap to reach more people?
  14. Excerpt from an MTV interview of Obama What makes it worth it to go to college, to save money for later, to show any initiative at all when an increasing portion is getting taken away (to whatever cause)? It's a question that my generation is facing quite frequently, even before Obama was anything more than a Chicago ward politician. Baby boomers will retire soon and Social Security payments have to come from somewhere ...
  15. Interesting article on Open Source software

    As long as we're on an XKCD roll, here's a great summary of the argument I made in my IP Law class. I think I may need to note that I do actually buy my content (music, movies, games, etc.) Really, it's just a point of meaningless distinction as long as all consumers are criminals in one way or another.
  16. Via Io9 The British Libertarian Party has come up with a catchy campaign. Give every member of the House of Lords and House of Commons a copy of 1984 inscribed lovingly with “This book was a warning, not a blueprint.” on Guy Fawkes Day, no less. I doubt it would do anything to change the elected officials, but getting the name and inscription in the public certainly draws attention to the book and its message. Here's the Party's press release on the subject.
  17. Obama Attacks Objectivism(?)!

  18. There is a very big difference in being available for free online and being freely available. The first is legal, the second is not depending on where you live. Whether it should or shouldn't be illegal is a separate, but inevitable, argument.
  19. A Contest

    Can You Out-Lame the TSA? First, a bit of context. Bruce Schneier (super ninja of computer security) and Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic do a bit of penetration testing at an airport to see how much it really takes to not be allowed on to a plane. Story here. It worked better than expected, to say the least. Kip Hawley, head of the TSA, essentially conceded that all the hoops we have to jump through to board an airplane are designed to catch "dumb terrorists." Whole thing here. So here's the contest: As my example, I'd like to point out the entire habit of throwing money at things that don't work - zillion-dollar bailouts, pubilc schools, and the new Copyright Czar (PRO-IP act, signed earlier this month). Happy hunting!
  20. A Contest

    Well, duh! That's in the name. TSA = Thousands Standing Around (Just remember to never say that at an airport. If they're in a foul mood, they can make you miss your flight, among worse things.)
  21. Interesting article on Open Source software

    :: dons my "I <3 Open Source" hat :: No, really, I do. I'm writing this on my laptop in AbiWord, using Fedora Core 9 x86_64. I've got a zillion tabs open in Firefox. On another workspace, I have Sun VirtualBox running to use the Windows-only software I need on a day-to-day basis. I have X-Chat and Pidgin running through an encrypted proxy (also free and open-source) and Banshee to listen to music. For a lot of people, it's really not all about the money. I agree that free will not fill anyone's belly (and neither will "the community" unless you're a zombie ...), but there are a number of other ways to make money off of free - some legit, some pretty nasty. I think the author and many of those he writes about is forgetting one of the most memorable Heinlein-novel quotes: "There ain't no such thing as a free lunch." For me, it isn't much about the free-as-in-speech or beer or whatever that means. Free is definitely a nice price tag for a college student. More than that, I love being able to modify it however I want and easily gain knowledge of anything and everything going on in my computer. (Although I can do a good bit of that in Windows as well.) But free has a price. As an example, I'll go back to me using Fedora 9. Fedora is a solidly-engineered operating system. It's the test-bed for Red Hat Enterprise Linux, a for-pay distribution owned by the sponsor of Fedora. Every few releases of Fedora, Red Hat takes to develop its next operating system from. They get the benefit of Linus' Law ("Given enough eyes, all bugs are shallow") and users get the benefit of using an operating system that would take the coordinated effort of skilled professionals in order to program. There is no formal customer support - there's a bunch of IRC channels and a forum online, but in the end, I'm on my own when I have trouble. I see ads related to my email in Google Mail when I use a web browser to access it. I don't use social networking sites, but they make money off selling god-level accounts to advertisers. YouTube also makes money off of ads (but is probably losing a great deal more from constant takedown notices). When the freely submitted content isn't bringing in the quantity of users to support itself, it too will die. Wikipedia is a nonprofit and runs off of donations, but enough people care about it now to keep them online. When that changes, it'll be like every other nonprofit and disappear. On the other side of free is malware. I remember endlessly telling people to remove certain file sharing programs for their privacy when I worked as a PC technician. Now I'm seeing fake anti-virus programs from time to time. I hate to say it, but their dastardly tactics do make money (at least for a little while). One of the fringe benefits of recreationally-programmed (or open-source or no-corporate-office) software is the ability to evade the law (whether the laws and intentions are good or bad is another point entirely). To evade censorship or tracking, you can use the TOR network or any number of other solutions. To avoid bankruptcy via lawsuit, have no one that can be sued. How many people or companies can pay off a lawsuit? Not having an office solves that problem. Consider Real Networks' RealDVD program. It's really nice about the whole copy-protection thing. It makes an encrypted copy of a DVD movie on a hard drive, protected by a license key to the RealDVD software (think iTunes-style copy protection). Within a week, there's a lawsuit and counter-suit, injunction to stop distributing the program, etc. I wouldn't have purchased RealDVD or similar copy-protection programs anyways. Those of us with the inclination have been making decrypted copies of our own DVDs for years for free - not to mention modifying it to make it play on portable music players and teaching other people how to do the same. That doesn't even mention the just-for-fun people who contribute in more ways than can be listed. This is where I fall in. I like to tinker and learn along the curiousity-control-conscious intent cycle. I don't have any plans to do anything worthy of payment, but if I help someone out along the way, that's nice. In the end, I'm using a snappy desktop that does everything I need and want it to do reliably; but that doesn't change reality - "There ain't no such thing as a free lunch."
  22. And boy does it look good! Link And a student site too.
  23. What are your Favorite B and C Movies?

    Any of the Babylon 5 Made-for-TV movies: The Legend of the Rangers The Lost Tales The Gathering In the Beginning Thirdspace The River of Souls A Call to Arms My favorite guilty pleasure, Starship Troopers. It's totally different than the book, but still entertaining. Not the sequel though. Oh, and the sequels to "Revenge of the Nerds" = Nerds in Paradise, The Next Generation, Nerds in Love
  24. I Was a Slave Scientist in Russia

    I had a hard time understanding how "slave" and "scientist" could be used in the same sentence until I read this. It's enlightening and very scary all at once. I think this was a children's magazine ... ? Part One Part Two
  25. What is the stupiest thing you heard a viro say?

    Another perfect quote from that episode is: (Signature Gatherer): Would you like to sign a petition to - (Protest Attendee): Sure, I'll sign. They didn't even ask what the petition is for, but they signed.