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DeMarquis Who Am I? from Hell, USA Relationship Status: Buried in snow, waiting for spring
Who Am I?
Oct 5th 2020 at 10:22:59 AM

Can we say "State Supported Actor?"

"Better to be lowly in spirit along with the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud."
GoosefromWikipedia Relationship Status: Hugging my pillow
Oct 6th 2020 at 5:58:54 AM

Are there any good online image conversion programs that aren't paywalled or overloaded with ads?

DeMarquis Who Am I? from Hell, USA Relationship Status: Buried in snow, waiting for spring
Who Am I?
Oct 6th 2020 at 9:10:30 AM

XnConvert. Haven't used it myself.

"Better to be lowly in spirit along with the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud."
RainehDaze Empress of Roses from Scotland Relationship Status: Mu
Empress of Roses
Oct 6th 2020 at 6:31:08 PM

Congress has found that large tech firms hold too much power. On the one hand, yes, breaking them up because of too many disparate consolidated businesses is one thing. On the other, some of the things they're focusing on are... odd? "Squashing innovation" in this sense seems a bit vague and peculiar, since these companies also do a lot of R&D. And the eternal focus on Amazon's domination of online retail rather than the fact it's that, plus Twitch, plus Amazon Web Services, plus Prime Video, plus whatever else they're working on. I have no idea what they expect to achieve for online sales by trying to break that side in particular up on the consumer end...

Oh, and amusingly given current legal cases, they brought up the Apple marketplace.

Umu!
DeMarquis Who Am I? from Hell, USA Relationship Status: Buried in snow, waiting for spring
Who Am I?
Oct 6th 2020 at 6:42:13 PM

Congress doesn't really understand the big picture. It's Tech's control over information and it's dissemination that matters. Unfortunately, we have no legal tradition to consult for guidance.

Edited by DeMarquis on Oct 6th 2020 at 9:42:31 AM

"Better to be lowly in spirit along with the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud."
RainehDaze Empress of Roses from Scotland Relationship Status: Mu
Empress of Roses
Oct 6th 2020 at 6:45:10 PM

I'm just sitting here trying to think of how you could break Amazon's actual selling-stuff-to-people side up in a coherent way that A) actually breaks it up, and B) doesn't miss that the reason it's got so much of a monopoly is because people have shockingly come to really like a single place to get nigh on everything when they aren't looking for a specialised site†.

† For extra fun, I've noted how specialised sites will also provide a good chunk of Amazon's inventory.

Edited by RainehDaze on Oct 6th 2020 at 2:47:31 PM

Umu!
tclittle Professional Forum Ninja from Somewhere Down in Texas
Professional Forum Ninja
Oct 6th 2020 at 6:57:48 PM

Amazon basically feels like 90s Walmart.

"We're all paper, we're all scissors, we're all fightin' with our mirrors, scared we'll never find somebody to love."
DeMarquis Who Am I? from Hell, USA Relationship Status: Buried in snow, waiting for spring
Who Am I?
Oct 6th 2020 at 7:11:05 PM

I used to own a bookstore, and one of my secrets was that I used Amazon (and other sites) to order books for people that I didn't stock at the time. Most of my customers knew I was doing this, but didn't care. My store eventually went out of business, but that wasn't Amazon's fault.

That Amazon controls so much online retail isn't really problem, because many other sources of retail goods are still available. They really aren't competing with small businesses, but with other large retailers who compete on price and inventory, not customer service or quality. They are not exercising monopoly control over prices, at least not yet.

But if you are worried about it the key is physical distribution. That could be broken down by region, with little or no negative effect on consumers. Decentralized delivery brokers could simply exchange goods being delivered to different areas of the country, using a system regulated by government, much the way electrical power currently is, or cable services. Amazon proper would continue to be the online broker of consumer goods, relying on the regional distributers to get the goods to the consumer. The point is that any retailer could take advantage of this regional-based distribution system, with no competitive advantage going to any one of them.

Legally, this could be done by a re-application of anti-trust laws to crack down on vertical integration (this is the way anti-trust laws were interpreted prior to the 1980's). Obviously, this problem is bigger than just Amazon.

"Better to be lowly in spirit along with the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud."
RainehDaze Empress of Roses from Scotland Relationship Status: Mu
Empress of Roses
Oct 6th 2020 at 7:15:05 PM

Yeah, breaking up separable operations is one thing. The real problem is politicians seem to home in on trying to split inseparable operations, like focusing on the retail market side, or trying to apply geographic separation on the web side of things. This completely defeats the point and the advantages of internet services.

Addressing vertical integration that excludes competition or agglomerating many distinct services under one banner is a problem that isn't even exclusive to the tech sphere but, obviously, needs to be done.

Umu!
Ramidel Relationship Status: Above such petty unnecessities
Oct 6th 2020 at 11:51:28 PM

@squashing innovation: Actually, they do often squash innovation, in part by patent trolling (Amazon literally has one-click purchasing patented), partly by buying out competitors, and partly by forcing their design teams to work towards existing constellations. For example, the Microsoft Kin and Courier went nowhere because Steve Ballmer wanted every Microsoft product running Windows, even when other OSes made more sense for phones and tablets. And the Kin was being designed by a team from a company that had been bought out specifically to give Microsoft a foot in the smartphone market.

Innovation: squashed.

Getting older is mandatory, growing up is optional.
RainehDaze Empress of Roses from Scotland Relationship Status: Mu
Empress of Roses
Oct 6th 2020 at 11:58:50 PM

My point is that they're being vague. Of the two examples you've noted, patent trolling and copyright squatting extends way beyond huge tech firms, and Microsoft kneecapping its own performance in markets obviously didn't stop other companies from innovating.

What the big tech firms seem to have a habit of doing is buying up startups, pushing money into them, and then dropping them if they don't turn a profit and cannibalising the developments. Problem being, that's just capitalism in a microcosm.

Umu!
Fighteer Lost in Space from The Time Vortex Relationship Status: Dancing with Captain Jack Harkness
Lost in Space
Oct 8th 2020 at 8:51:30 AM

This isn't really a computer topic any more, folks. Amazon has a lot of software but talking about forcibly breaking that up is vastly different than breaking up its shipping and warehousing business.


Ars Technica: Google’s Supreme Court faceoff with Oracle was a disaster for Google

This is a big deal that seems not to have made national news, although it would have in any other year. Google and Oracle are finally facing off in the U.S. Supreme Court over the question of whether application programming interfaces (APIs) are copyrightable.

Background: For decades, it has been standard practice in the industry to assume that an API — a set of declarations for computer code that allow someone to design other programs to work with that code — is essentially public domain. This understanding has demonstrably improved the portability and interoperability of code, since companies can copy other companies' APIs and reverse-engineer the implementation level in order to, for example, hire employees without making them learn a new programming language.

The case in question is a decade-long lawsuit by Oracle over Google's copying of its Java API for the Android operating system. As discussed above, Google took the API (then owned by Sun) and reverse-engineered it, effectively creating its own implementation of Java. Thus, programmers who were familiar with Java could easily write code for Android, or even port existing code (presumably open-source or licensed) without modifications.

This sort of thing occurs all over the industry, and a win for Oracle (which wants Google to pay billions in fines and licensing fees) could have dramatic repercussions for software development. However, Google's lawyer seemed to do a poor job arguing in front of the Court, and four of the eight justices expressed significant skepticism about Google's argument.

The specific issue at hand is whether Section 102(b) of the Copyright Act, which exempts an "idea, procedure, process, system, method of operation, concept, principle, or discovery" from copyright protection, applies to APIs distinctly from other kinds of computer code. An analogy was made to the QWERTY keyboard, now in common use. Had this been copyrightable, every typewriter (and later keyboard) manufacturer would have had to either pay licensing fees to its inventor or design their own unique keyboard layout. An API is thought to be a "method of operation" of the underlying software, which can itself be copied without any copyright applying.

If SCOTUS holds that APIs are copyrightable, the software industry could undergo a massive shift as companies relying on reverse-engineering APIs would be forced to rewrite massive amounts of code or face vast licensing fees.

Google lost its original argument in 2014, but there is another out in the case. Google is separately arguing that its use of the Java API constitutes Fair Use, an argument that was upheld in a 2016 jury decision, but overturned in 2018 in an appeals court. Google is arguing that the appeal was invalid because it was based on the facts of the case, not a procedural or legal error, and jury decisions are not themselves subject to appeal. If SCOTUS upholds this argument (reversing the lower court appeal), it would give Google a narrow win while still leaving the larger question open.

Edited by Fighteer on Oct 8th 2020 at 11:54:46 AM

"It's Occam's Shuriken! If the answer is elusive, never rule out ninjas!"
DeMarquis Who Am I? from Hell, USA Relationship Status: Buried in snow, waiting for spring
Who Am I?
Oct 8th 2020 at 9:05:05 AM

Don't worry, if the customers of the software industry end up paying more for inferior products, our Congress will re-write the laws taking into account...

God, I couldn't even finish that sentence with a straight face.

"Better to be lowly in spirit along with the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud."
Fighteer Lost in Space from The Time Vortex Relationship Status: Dancing with Captain Jack Harkness
Lost in Space
Oct 8th 2020 at 5:23:54 PM

Nice.

Ars Technica: Apple pays $288,000 to white-hat hackers who had run of company’s network

A "white hat" hacker team got a $288K payday from Apple for discovering a myriad of vulnerabilities in the company's information systems, including 11 "critical" vulnerabilities that could have allowed hackers to gain partial or complete control over resources including user data.

"It's Occam's Shuriken! If the answer is elusive, never rule out ninjas!"
RainehDaze Empress of Roses from Scotland Relationship Status: Mu
Empress of Roses
Oct 8th 2020 at 5:51:51 PM

I have no idea why the more obvious analogy for APIs didn't come up (at least, the one that I first thought of): they're such a basic way of just describing the format of something that you can compare them to doors in a house. If you allow copyrighting that, then you're saying nobody else can make a perfectly normal door, and every other house should force people to climb in through the window.

Umu!
Fighteer Lost in Space from The Time Vortex Relationship Status: Dancing with Captain Jack Harkness
Lost in Space
Oct 8th 2020 at 5:57:03 PM

That's more like the idea of an API in general. In this case it would be more like copyrighting the mechanism that opens and closes the window. Although that's also not a perfect analogy because that's covered by patent law, not copyright law.

"It's Occam's Shuriken! If the answer is elusive, never rule out ninjas!"
RainehDaze Empress of Roses from Scotland Relationship Status: Mu
Empress of Roses
Oct 8th 2020 at 6:12:08 PM

My first thought was actually copyrighting a door handle for the door, so it works. [lol]

Umu!
SeptimusHeap PCNA from Switzerland Relationship Status: Mu
PCNA
Oct 9th 2020 at 2:07:07 AM

So it looks like ransomware attacks increasingly target large companies. And it's not just small time criminals, we are talking about organized crime-level stuff. Although there still are small time folks such as these that in Germany mistook a hospital for an university (they had the decency to hand over the decryption key after being contacted, at least). The strategy is also getting more sophisticated, for example nowadays the attackers usually can demonstrate that they can decrypt the systems attacked.

Sometimes this happens through frankly ludicrous security flaws (e.g a software which allows admin level access without a password if your login name is "Nobody"), too.

"For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled." - Richard Feynman
RainehDaze Empress of Roses from Scotland Relationship Status: Mu
Empress of Roses
Oct 9th 2020 at 2:14:53 AM

Frankly, if your sysadmins leave in security holes like that, they probably deserve it.

Umu!
DeMarquis Who Am I? from Hell, USA Relationship Status: Buried in snow, waiting for spring
Who Am I?
Oct 9th 2020 at 7:23:56 AM

Organized crime rings have dominated ransomware attacks (and other forms of hacking) for some time now.

"Better to be lowly in spirit along with the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud."
RainehDaze Empress of Roses from Scotland Relationship Status: Mu
Empress of Roses
Oct 9th 2020 at 5:45:24 PM

Well, I was glad to find out that my GPU had the better capacitor setup, so that shouldn't have any of the stability issues that plagued the first few 3000 series cards. Maybe nvidia will learn from this and let AIB's have the damn drivers in advance to test with, since everything leaks regardless.

And that there is no weird stability issue from having more VRAM than RAM (the order shipped late at night so I couldn't order the other components in time). I was a bit concerned that might be a thing.

Umu!
GoosefromWikipedia Relationship Status: Hugging my pillow
Oct 10th 2020 at 8:28:29 AM

Anyone else getting redirected to phishing sites on sites that use Google Ads?

Steven The Nu Mou Enthusiast from The Room Relationship Status: YOU'RE TEARING ME APART LISA
The Nu Mou Enthusiast
Oct 25th 2020 at 10:28:59 PM

I was live streaming a game just a moment ago and my PC suddenly blue screened. Said something about heap corruption. Any ideas?

Something something thoughts and prayers
RainehDaze Empress of Roses from Scotland Relationship Status: Mu
Empress of Roses
Oct 25th 2020 at 10:35:57 PM

Something went wrong with memory allocation. I assume it's not a case of RAM being overclocked (or at least not beyond XMP, which it should be rated for...), so maybe using too much RAM?

Umu!
Steven The Nu Mou Enthusiast from The Room Relationship Status: YOU'RE TEARING ME APART LISA
The Nu Mou Enthusiast
Oct 25th 2020 at 10:43:08 PM

I don't have my RAM overclocked and the game I was playing was Left 4 Dead 2, which is the least intensive game I have. I made sure I wasn't running Chrome beforehand cause I know that eats up memory like a MOFO if you aren't careful. My build is newish, about a month and a half old and I had no issues since. Chalk it up to a possible fluke?

Something something thoughts and prayers

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