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Everything posted by Hal

  1. Yeah. The irony of an Atlas Shrugged movie being ruined by the desire to sell it to as many people as possible isnt lost on me :/
  2. According to this definition, any textfield would be 'executable' since it causes your texteditor to display words on the screen, and mp3 files would be executable because they cause your audio player to make sounds. Executable code = machine code, generally speaking (or object code in the case of a language like Java/.NET). This distinction can certainly be blurred by file types such as scripts and MS Word macros, but html files are definitely not executable by any standard definition. Here's some definitions pulled from the web supporting this: http://www.pcmag.com/encyclopedia_term/0,2...&i=42842,00.asp http://www.webopedia.com/TERM/E/executable_file.html http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Executable_file I'd argue that theres a significant difference, namely that running non-executable code cant damage your computer. One of the first things you teach internet newbies is that they shouldnt run .exe files because they could contain trojans, whereas things like .txt and .mp3 are never going to cause damage.
  3. errr.... Yeah, I mean an act with the capacity for reproduction, except 'capacity' doesnt even make sense there so I suppose I should say 'potential', sorry.
  4. Only on an Objectivism forum could this question be asked and answered without a hint of irony But seriously, from a purely biological perspective, I'd say that the reproductive aspect is the most fundamental. There are 'derivative' types of sex such as homosexual intercourse and 'sex for pleasure', but if you want a scientific, species-neutral definition then something like "a capacity for reproduction involving 2 members of the species" would probably be best (unless asexual reproduction (worms?) is classed as sex?). If you want something along the genus-differentia lines, then 'reproductive act' would probably be the genus, and you'd have to ask a biologist for the best way of formulating the differentia. Of course this is only one context in which the term can be defined, and something less 'dehumanising' might be required for other purposes, which is where things like shared values and the like come in. Human sexuality is obviously far more complex than that of other animals, so a 'species-neutral' description barely scratches the surface. From the point of view of a particular human, the reproductive aspects of sex might be irrelevant, or even a serious drawback (I doubt that I'll ever want to have kids, yet I still enjoy sex).
  5. I think this is wrong, althuogh I'm not positive. I was under the impression that its only with clusters of galaxies that the increase in distance becomes noticable. Otherwise we'd have some bizarre theory where its only after objects reach a certain size that they begin to move away from all other objects (a sort of cosmological dualism, with no gradual transition between the large and the small). Why would there be anything special about 'clusters of galaxies' that makes them obey different physical laws from the rest of the universe? I'm not sure since Ive never studied cosmology, but I thought the standard theory said (effectively) that the distance between all points in the universe was continually increasing, but we didnt notice this when performing measurements on earth because the expansion also affected our measuring instruments. Again though, I could just be making this up.
  6. Clicking on a popup cannot result in software being installed on your machine. I assume that what actually happened is that you clicked on it, and were then asked if you wished to download and run a program. If you clicked 'yes' (or 'run'), this would constitute consent. I seriously doubt this is what actually happened. Webpages (= HTML documents) arent executable, they are just textfiles which contain the content of the page along with formatting information. Unless your browser contains horrible security holes, visiting a webpage cannot cause anything to be exectuted on your machine without your consent.
  7. I'd be surprised if there was much mathematical software written in C++ - its a terrible language for implementing algorithms (too low-level - a good programming language should be transparent, rather than forcing you to mess around with things like memory allocation), and if raw speed is really that important, C would be a better choice. Out of the 'big 3' mathematical packages, Maple is written in Java (), Matlab in C, and Mathematica in some OO C-hybrid. Honestly, I cant think of many worse mainstream languages than C++ for doing mathematics in :/
  8. hmmm, apparently the more difficult CAPTCHAs are harder to crack than I thought. I was under the impression that you could easily download programs which could correctly solve the majority of captchas out there, but apparently there's a lot that cause problems. Fair enough then, perhaps they do work.
  9. I dont think laws are needed, just common sense. This was your mistake right here; the first 2 things you should do when you install windows is to download all the bug fixes/service packs from Windows Update, and then install a proper web-browser. Im not particularly anti-MS - I think that Windows and Office are great products. But internet explorer is an abomination which should be avoided at all costs. edit: Having said that, IE probably isnt responsible for your adware problem, as much as I'd like to blame it. A lot of programs on the net install dodgy crap alongside the 'main' program, and this doesnt have anything to do with the browser youre using. Your best bet would be to only install software from reputable sources, and all the normal safety advice. The reason why a law wouldnt work is that a lot of programs which install spyware actually tell you theyre doing so, even if it's sometimes buried in small print. To be honest, I've ceased being amazed at every new step the advertising industry takes in its apparent quest to become the most evil entity in the known universe. A few years ago I would have told you that pop-up adverts and spam email had plumbed the depths of irritation to a level it would not be possible to beat, but God was I wrong. There's a nice article Somethingawful wrote on web advertising a few years ago now, and all of it still applies.
  10. edit: never mind, I suppose this thread is a philosophical one rather than a scientific one.
  11. And giggling to yourself when someone makes a mistake in their speech is polite? Sorry but I'm with JASK on this, I cant imagine a more rude way to deal with a mistake than what you suggested in your original post :/ Especially the "what are you laughing at?"/"oh nothing, carry on <giggle>" part at the end.
  12. A third? It'll be 5 minutes long top; you cant have a 20 minute speech in a 2-3 hour long film. Anyway, I cant say that I'm especially enthusiastic about the casting. I'd have preferred them to stay away from the standard Hollywood 'big names' and try to find some fresh talent. Brad Pitt especially strikes me as a poor decision. I dont really have high hopes for the film anyway though since its being made without Ayn Rand's creative involvement, but hopefully I'll be proven wrong.
  13. Dont oil companies receive pretty hefty subsidies from the government? (I'm asking this seriously, I was under the impression that they did, although I dont know for sure). If so, then accusations of price gouging may have some merit (again, I dont really know enough about the politics here to say).
  14. I agree with GreedyCapitalist, and I would recommend this as an excellent introduction to relativity (both special and general). It's an audio lecture course, and doesnt presuppose any math background. But as for the claim about 'moving clocks running slower'. Bear in mind that both clocks are moving relative to one another. Its not that one is staying still while the other moves, because there is no absolute frame of rest (the Earth moves through space at X thousand miles per hour remember - you arent stationary in any absolute sense while you are sitting on your bed). In clock A's frame of reference, clock A is staying still and B is moving. But in B's frame of reference, B stays still and A moves. So if moving clocks ran slow, both clocks would end up running slow and theyd tell the same time (this is the idea behind the twin paradox). What actually happens though is slightly more complicated, and involves acceleration (which isnt reference frame dependent).
  15. Hal

    Hackers "good"?

    Again, I would say this depends on what you do. If you find flaws in their system and then exploit them to cause damage, then yes this is obviously wrong. But if you were just trying to gain entry for intellectual curiosity, or to practice your skills, and you alerted the system's owner about any loophole you found, then I would say you were doing them a favour. Its better they have the vulnerability found by someone who means no harm, than to have it stay open to be exploited in future by someone with less pure motivations. Personally if I were running network software and someone contacted me to tell me theyd broke into the system (without doing damage), I'd be greatful and appreciative of their skill/honesty. I'd also know that I'd be better off in the longrun.
  16. They change in the sense that less time has elapsed on one than the other. But this is a relative change. From the point of view of either one of the clocks, nothing has happened. No matter which clock you follow, its not going to suddenly speed up or slow down. They will both continue to tick at the same rate, and yet they will measure different amounts of time. Clock A isnt running slower in an absolute (non-relative) sense, but when you bring the clocks back together, it will show less time having elapsed than clock B. See my edit to the above post about what would happen if you went into orbit along with one of the clocks. edit: This 'explanation' isnt meant to intuitive sense or anything - its not that theres something obvious here that you arent getting. Its that the results of special relativity are extremely extremely weird (far more so than quantum mechanics imo). But, they also seems to be true. No, it mustnt. We deal with time quantitatively when doing special/general relativity, and can make extremely accurate predictions about what should happen to clocks in various experiments. None of this presupposes an immutable standard of time - in fact it denies that there is one. edit: the idea of time being immutable encounters further difficulties when you consider that even the time ordering of 2 events can differ depending on the reference frame. If you snap your fingers on both hands at the same time, it will be possible to define a reference frame from which one hand will be seen to snap before the second, and another reference frame where the second will snap before the first. And its not that either of these reference frames are 'wrong' or that your fingers are 'really' snapping simultaneously, its that simultaneity itself, just like time duration, is entirely relative to where youre standing. Its equal as long as youre in the same reference frame. 5 seconds plus 2 hours = 2 hours and 5 seconds in reference frame A, but to someone orbitting earth at a very high speed, only 10 minutes may have passed during this time (and again, this does not mean that things have slowed down for him in any way he could notice).
  17. Its not being slowed, and it isnt changing. There is no physical difference/change in the clock at any point in the experiment - if you interpret time dilation as saying that 'clocks run slower' in the sense that the hands are moving slower like they would if the batteries were running down, you miss the point. It would be more accurate to say that less time is passing in the reference frame of the clock thats orbitting the earth, but even this is slightly misleading. Time dilation isnt a statement about clocks, its a statement about time. edit: To put it another way - imagine that you were in the capsule that was accelerating fast away from earth, then returning. Things would not be 'running slower' for you in any noticable sense - its not like objects would start moving in slow motion, or that yoour speeeech wooouuld slooooooooow doowwwn or anything like that. Everything would be perfectly normal at all times. Yet when you returned to earth, you could have (eg) aged 20 years less than the people who remained on the planet. Why would it? The universe is extremely strange and a lot of results are counter-intuitive, but strangeness doesnt necessarily involve a violation of identity.
  18. Nothing is 'slowing' it - the clock isnt running slower as such (there isnt anything physically dragging the hands back, and there will still be the same length of time between the ticks if you watch them). Its just that once you bring it back to earth, it will be measuring less time than a clock which hadnt flown around the world. The universe is weird. This probably doesnt help though. This is the part that isnt true. The clock experiment (amongst other things) disproves this classical conception of time.
  19. Hal

    Hackers "good"?

    And someone who breaks into a bank has to exceed the skill of the people who designed the security system. I've no doubt that some crackers are extremely skilled (I believe that many computer security experts are ex-crackers), but so what? Anyway, its just wrong to say that all crackers are skillful. Some of them are, definitely. But a lot will just be script kiddies who use whatever program theyve managed to find on the internet, without having any real idea what theyre doing or why it works.
  20. Well, it wouldnt be stealing, it would be patent infringement. Theft involves deprivation of physical property, not just use without the owner's consent. If I used someone's car when he was out and returned it, I would have used his property without permission (and depending on context, should be punished by law), but it isnt theft. I suppose you can say that copyright infringement is theft (of the exclusive right to copy) in the same sense that you can that murder is theft of life or that rape is theft of vaginal fluid (?!), but this isnt how these offences are currently classified in law, and they represent quite a strange way of speaking. But in any case, I would agree that downloading music is like patent infringement, but only if the infringment in question involves you building a single copy of the patented thing for use in your living room, and not selling it or giving it to anyone else. I'm not saying that this is a moral thing to do, but the magnitude of the offence is far less than (eg) shoplifting or mass-producing someone else's patented goods and selling them for profit. edit: although the second paragraph sounds like I'm being flippant, I remember once being informed by a lawyer friend that if a women pierces a condom without you knowing, then has sex with you and gets pregnant as a result, then the offence which she has comitted under British law is actually theft (of semen). So if you wanted to press charges, thats what you'd go for. Assuming this is true, is it really theft? Well I would be inclined to say 'no, of course not'. But this obviously doesnt mean that it should be legal.
  21. I think it would depend on the word in question. If it was something like 'obscure' (or perhaps 'irony') where I wouldnt have the faintest idea how to explain it in more basic words, then I'd probably just say "forget it" or something. If the word was fairly easy to replace with a smaller one, I'd probably give a synonym. There are different reasons for using big words(/technical terms) - one would be for literary effect (it makes your sentences sound more interesting than talking monosyllabically), while another would be conceptual (there just isnt a smaller word, or group of words, which means quite the same thing). Its obviously easier to translate one of the former than one of the latter. Well, its possible to make mistakes. I've liked the word "vapid" for quite some time, and I use it a fair bit. However, today I found out that it actually meant something different from what I thought it did (I was under the impression it meant 'shallow'). I'd definitely have argued with someone who told me I was using it wrong , and probably wouldnt have believed him until a dictionary had been consulted.
  22. This is correct, but it isnt really general relativity, the denial of priviledged frames of reference was first put forwards by Galileo, and is built into Newtonian mechanis. Special relativity took things slightly further, but the idea of there being (eg) no such thing as absolute rest has been accepted for centuries. Saying 'theres no such thing as objective position' is a very misleading way of putting things though - position (and speed) is still objective within the context of any given reference frame. To take an example - when I look out my window, and see a car going past at 30mph, its objectively correct that the car is moving at 30mph, measured from where I am standing. Now, this doesnt mean that the car is 'really' moving at 30mph, because its speed will change depening on where you look at it from. Someone in a car moving at 20mph in the opposite direction will measure the original car as moving at 50mph, and someone looking at earth from the moon will measure the car as moving at several thousand mph. All these different measurements of the speed are equally correct, within the (different) frames of reference they are being taken in. And theres no 'real' speed/position of the car above and beyond all these different measurements. Well, the idea that everything in the universe is moving away from Earth strikes me being implausible. This would imply that we were somehow at the centre of the universe, which seems a bit egocentric and a regression to the Christian worldview. But aside from this, I'm under the impression that data suggests the distance between all things in the universe is increasing, not just the distance between them and earth (I'm not sure about this however, having never studied cosmology in any detail). The discovery of Cosmic background radiation is generally taken to be the piece of evidence which swung most people's opinions conclusively in the favour of the big bang theory, and which killed off most mainstream research into steady-state explanations.
  23. The closest analogy to downloading music would be taping a film thats on TV, or recording something on the radio. Copying blueprints would be more analogous to breaking into an artist's recording studio and taking a copy of their album several months before it was due to be publically released.
  24. woah, youre male I'd always read your username as 'thegirlisamerican' for some reason
  25. I would say this is what it really comes down to. We can debate the morality of file-downloading all we want, but the truth of the matter is that the current laws are simply unenforcable, and the industry is going to have to adapt its business model to take new technology into account, or go bankrupt. Initiatives like i-tunes are obviously a step in the right direction, although they are late, and extremely poor quality (who is going to pay for a 128kbps AAC encoding when they can download superior -ape/flac for free? And lets not even get into DRM restrictions.). I would imagine that the situation will improve in the future, as better services emerge for the legal electronic copying of music - the music industry is eventually going to realise that its campaign to turn America into a police state via initiatives like the DMCA and the more sinister laws they are lobbying for wont work in the long term (10 years in prison for simply typing "Britney Spears mp3s" into google? Good work Congress!). Of course, you guys will probably have lost a lot more freedom by the time that happens, but meh. To put the matter into perspective, if media lobbies had the same kind of power 50 years ago that they do today, there is no chance things like video recorders and cassette tapes would have ever been legal.
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