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Messages - tranglos [ switch to compact view ]

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DC Gamer Club / Re: Microsoft Flight Simulator - Free!
« on: April 15, 2012, 07:07 PM »
A quick update to say Flight is now available on Steam - the full Hawaii package. Now, before steam, you had to open a MS Games account (which is a Live account plus Game Points that you buy), and during the game/sim Flight connects to that account. Since you can now buy it through steam, I wonder what happens to that. If you buy it on steam, can you buy new DLC later directly from MS? Not sure that I'd want to mix the two!

There's a good, fair write-up of Flight here. Though this is written by an experienced simmer, and I am a total novice, I'd say pretty much what he says, about the good parts and the bad parts. His impression is spot-on:

my first impression was: Wow. This is awesome. And terrible. And beautiful. And ugly. And compelling. And boring

(Well, almost spot-on - I can't say I've seen the "ugly".)

I've been switching between Flight and FSX. Since FSX has a lot of tutorials, I use it to learn, then try it all out in Flight, where the flying environment is more fun. Then I go back to FSX, because it lets you plan longer trips, use the autopilot, ATC, all that. My main impression is that flying and (particularly) landing is significantly easier in FSX!

Now, I'm only flying single and twin-prop aircraft (since I realized I can't even level out a jet in flight :-) in fair weather, with realism settings at about medium, increasing them gradually. I have no idea which of the two has a more realistic flight model and aircraft response, but the difference is surprisingly large.

Flying the tutorials in FSX, when I am instructed to maintain 55 knots in the Cessna 172, no problem. Climb or descend at an assigned rate, comes after a few tries. Maintain an altitude - that takes me more time to get right than I think it should, but I can get there. Trying to do the same in Flight is way harder, sometimes next to impossible.

I like the Maule 7 a lot, and it's the only aircraft available in both Flight and FSX, so there should be some comparison. In Flight, this thing knows only two settings: climb uncontrollably or drop like a rock. Above 56% or so throttle, it will continue climbing until it stalls, regains airspeed, then climb again, in a huge flattened sinusoid. Below that, and it will descend at much more than the 500 feet per minute you're supposed to keep (more or less) during descent. There is nothing in-between.

(The intriguing thing is that when you switch to "flying with the mouse", everything becomes child's play - just point the mouse level and the aircraft will fly level. No fun, and certainly no realism. But with throttle+joystick, the same tasks become a near impossibility.)

That same aircraft becomes completely tame in FSX. Level flight - easy. Reduce throttle to 25%, and it will glide down nicely they way you want it to. In Flight, at 25% it's a paperweight.

Oh, there's trimming, but the controls are way oversensitive in Flight, with no settings to make them less so. A single press of a button will trim by 5, 7 or 9 percent, and the amount varies, so you can't bring the trim back to neutral at all. The only way to trim by 1% is to use the mouse wheel over the trim control in the virtual cockpit, which almost always requires panning the view, which prevents you from controlling the aircraft properly... and even the 1% changes seem to have an exaggerated effect.  Exaggerated in comparison with FSX, that is - not sure which is closer to reality.

In FSX, flying the simpler aircraft, I can grease the landings fairly easily, even make the recommended three-wheel touchdown in Maule is not that hard. In Flight, after over 80 hours flying time and over 700 landings (it keeps these stats for you), I can't make consistently soft landings. What's worse, at 100 or so feet above ground I still don't know what the touchdown is going to be like or if/how I can assure a soft one. It's unpredictable, and the aircraft just doesn't like to stay in the air very much.

Of the four aircraft available in Flight (excluding the external-view-only Mustang and Zero, which I'm not buying), the Stearman and the RV-6 behave very much like the Maule. Only the lowly Icon is more manageable. The RV-6 is the opposite of Maule in that it will climb happily even at 15% throttle or less, which makes it impossibly hard (for me, the greenhorn in the room) to properly slow it down to 60 kts or less for landing. With full flaps, I'm finding that I have to reduce the throttle to idle long before the touchdown point in order to slow down sufficiently, and then be very careful not to increase it above 6-8% if I don't want to overshoot the runway.

Somehow I have none of these problems in FSX, even when flying the more powerful twin-engines. They behave much more predictably to me, while I am really in no position to "predict" aircraft behavior in the first place.

Both FSX and Flight are great fun, both have tons of annoyances. FSX has all kinds of navigation (having ATC direct you to the runway is kinda cool), but I get off at the stop where you're supposed to start calculating fuel and landing weight (in your head, too). It crashes way too often, which is awfully frustrating during a training session or a mission, since they tend to be long (20, 40 minutes or more) and you can't skip to waypoints, like you can in Flight. And, I just have to say it, the UI in FSX is murder. Starting with the map, which you cannot resize beyond the tiny rectangle, or the spin controls in which you cannot type or which tend to reset to zero out of their own will when you set their values. Or how you cannot load a flight into the flight editor (e.g. to reuse the aircraft and airport but change the weather, etc.). It's hard to believe this UI passed quality checks in 2006. (I won't even mention usability tests.)

Flight, OTOH, is smooth as silk and has truly wonderful graphics, but as I switch between it and FSX, the lack of ATC, GPS, autopilot, a real map and other navigation aids takes away much of the initial fun. (Though flying an ILS approach in zero visibility without those helpers is as hard as it probably should be. Haven't cracked that one yet.)

I have no complaints yet about the limited range of aircraft in Flight - after all, the idea of taking a 7?7 from Maui to Oahu seems somewhat... out there. The limited area is more of an issue of course, but with the very limited navigation facilities, you would be hard pressed to navigate longer distances. (VOR does work, as long as you have FSX to learn how to use it in the first place!)

The much harder landings are more satisfying when you get them right. The frustrating part is, it's hard to know why you did or did not get them right. There's no recording, no replay and no flight analysis, so you are left to your imagination trying to figure out what you did wrong on approach. To me, learning, this is as bad as - maybe even worse than - all the other limitations in Flight, as it really adds to frustration. Trial and error works only as long as you can diagnose the error, which flight makes that much harder.

The appeal of Flight does seem to wane with time. What's keeping me with it is the challenges I haven't successfully completed, the varied weather patterns you can play with, and the overall ease of use and non-crashing. But I'm learning more from FSX, and in the long run FSX is probably the one to stay, if only I can keep it from crashing. In the end the only real advantage of Flight is in the beauty and detail of its graphics.

N.A.N.Y. 2012 / Re: NANY 2012 Release: Ethervane Echo
« on: April 06, 2012, 04:47 PM »
Win 7 64

Ethervane will not show in systray at restart.
I have set it to show "icon and notification".
If I manually do that then it shows.
But at system restart it is hidden again.

This (what shows up in the system tray) is entirely controlled by Windows, not by applications. All Echo does is instruct Windows to show its icon in the system tray, but it has no control over how it is displayed (icon, notifications only etc).

I'm not seeing the problem you describe on Windows 7 32-bit. Perhaps the 64-bit Windows treats 32-b it apps in this way, I'm afraid I have no idea.

DC Gamer Club / Re: Microsoft Flight Simulator - Free!
« on: March 31, 2012, 02:03 PM »
MSFlight vs X-Plane 10? = Gimme X-Plane any day!
-Stephen66515 (March 31, 2012, 01:46 PM)

Tried that too, the trial. Got a god-awful frame rate, even though my system falls well within their specs. No idea why, but it was so bad I uninstalled it after one try.

Will try again some time, when I've had enough of MS Flight, but in my initial impression it was somewhat frustrating to get started with. Does it have tutorials? Aircraft info?

It's probably quite lame of me, but I find it tedious to stay up in the air for hours without anything interesting to look out the window at. Hawaii was a good choice for MS, as is Alaska, since the terrain is varied and beautiful (and provides for many challenges if you want). Don't know about X-Plane, but in FSX Hawaii looks totally bland, and anywhere else is only worse. Add-on scenery is expensive, limited and it would probably make the frame rate unplayable.

But I *am* hooked and I finally have a reason to upgrade my hardware. The only problem is I'm not sure any hardware upgrade will help in FSX, since it really depends on the CPU clock only, and the clocks today are pretty much what they were five years ago.

DC Gamer Club / Re: Microsoft Flight Simulator - Free!
« on: March 31, 2012, 12:34 PM »
A couple of those 'addon' packs would probably cost more than the complete MS FS X (which by the way still runs fine on Windows 7, including 64 bit).

Yeah, but barely :-) It's another story. I bought FSX and MS Flight within days from each other. MS FLight, with all the detailed terrain, weather, lighting and shadows, runs fine at max quality settings on my system. In FSX, by contrast, I have to pull the terrain, weather and all other sliders to minimum just to get a frame rate that's usable but still not smooth. FSX really shows its age; I've read that it doesn't offload any graphics rendering to the GPU, so the CPU has way too much to do. In fact, with the default terrain both ugly (water!) and boring, I am seriously underwhelmed. MS Flight only gives you Hawaii, but in an amazing detail and quality. I fly just to look around, and it's awesome. (And the airports and other landmarks check out against Google Maps in satellite view - there's a lot of actual terrain, not generic textures).

Strange FS X seems to run fine on my system with everything cranked to max ???
-Carol Haynes (March 31, 2012, 12:23 PM)

At max, I get maybe one frame per second :-) Win 7 32-bit, Core2 Duo 2.6 GHz, 4 GM RAM, NVidia GTX 275 GPU with 896 MB memory. Not the hottest specs today, but it still runs new DirectX 10 games well at close to max settings.

Where do you buy the extras? I can only see Hawaii Adventure Pack and three planes. Is that all there is?

Two ways. When you start Flight, at the main screen there's a sliding image on the left. (Click the arrows to change). Maule should be listed there, as well as two other add-on aircraft: the Mustang and the Zero. (But they are crippled - there's no cockpit view).

In-game, click the Hangar icon. The pane at the bottom shows all planes: the ones you can fly and the ones available for purchase (marked with a price in MS points).

You may need to register an MS Games account first (frustrating! nowhere near the ease of Steam) and be connected to it in-game.

On edit: actually, scratch that. You did say you see the Hawaiian pack and the planes, sorry, I missed that. Yes, this is all there is for now. Four single-prop planes plus the two crippled ones (and who came up with the brilliant idea to fly a Mitsubishi Zero over Pearl Harbor?).

MS has announced an Alaska expansion pack, to be out in Spring. Hope they include some twin-engine aircraft there, and jets. Within Hawaii, there really isn't much to do with a jet, but the whole of Alaska rendered at the same level of detail would be nice.

But, yes, for now that's all there is.

DC Gamer Club / Re: Microsoft Flight Simulator - Free!
« on: March 31, 2012, 12:16 PM »
For Orbiter sound you have to download and install the sound bits separately. Not sure why they did it that way.
-Carol Haynes (March 31, 2012, 11:09 AM)

The OpenAL? The installer claims to be installing it. But, no joy.

DC Gamer Club / Re: Microsoft Flight Simulator - Free!
« on: March 31, 2012, 12:12 PM »
PS: I have MS FlighstSim X and am just downloading Free MS Flight.

I have now discovered why they haven't gone for a new packaged version!

The base game is free but lots of stuff that was in X now has to be bought as an addon - and they are not cheap at all.
-Carol Haynes (March 31, 2012, 11:30 AM)

True, and it's been a common complaint. Then again, the same can be said about third-party add-ons to FSX, without which the sim environment is rather bland.

The Hawaiian Adventure Pack gives you all the major Hawaiian islands and one (only one!) new plane - a small, fast, single-prop RV-6. Even that doesn't allow you to fly all the missions in the game though. To fly cargo and passengers you need the larger Maule, which is a separate paid add-on (but a very satisfying plane to fly, unless your main joy is in aerobatics).

I've actually gone and bought the pack and the Maule and I love them and I am seriously hooked, even though I don't like how MS is selling them at all. But, the sim experience is really cool; it's just bound to become very expensive in the long run. Ask me if there's anything I can help with. (If I can find the time, I may write a detailed review of MS Flight.)

In short, MS Flight cannot be seriously considered free, since the free package is extremely limited. It's no more than a demo.

A couple of those 'addon' packs would probably cost more than the complete MS FS X (which by the way still runs fine on Windows 7, including 64 bit).

Yeah, but barely :-) It's another story. I bought FSX and MS Flight within days from each other. MS FLight, with all the detailed terrain, weather, lighting and shadows, runs fine at max quality settings on my system. In FSX, by contrast, I have to pull the terrain, weather and all other sliders almost to minimum just to get a frame rate that's usable but still not smooth. FSX really shows its age; I've read that it doesn't offload any graphics rendering to the GPU, so the CPU has way too much to do. Does it even use multiple cores? It feels as if it's running on one! In fact, with the generic airports, default terrain both ugly (water!) and boring (same everywhere), I am seriously underwhelmed. MS Flight only gives you Hawaii, but in an amazing detail and quality. I fly just to look around, and it's awesome. (And the airports and other landmarks check out against Google Maps in satellite view - there's a lot of actual terrain, not generic textures).

DC Gamer Club / Re: Microsoft Flight Simulator - Free!
« on: March 31, 2012, 10:55 AM »
I eventually found a config file for my joystick (there was a specific file supplied as part of the install but it didn't work properly - unless you like to spin on the spot) but then I found if you did any sort of aerobatics the artificial horizon was way out afterwards.
-Carol Haynes (March 08, 2012, 09:56 AM)

Haven't tried it, but from what I've read around MS flight sims, this is how the actual thing behaves IRL. The gyro goes out of whack when you pull too many Gs, and it may take up to 30 mins or so for it to stabilize. What I am not sure about is whether flight sims "for the rest of us" should simulate such detail, as it makes the whole thing quite frustrating.

(It's like the oil temp indicator in the cockpit: what am I supposed to do if it goes too high? Call MS support? The sim doesn't include airport mechanics, after all. Why simulate something that I have no control over and is entirely irrelevant to the gameplay? In a real pilot training sim, sure, but in a general audience product that's going overboard IMO.)

I tried Oribiter too - I am sure is very clever but it looked like too steep a learning curve for me!

Aargh. Orbiter won't play sound for me, and there's no solution to be found. Too bad, since it looks very neat. I'm sure it works on the devs' machines though :-) Reminds me of when I tried Red Hat Linux more than a decade ago. With a sound card, you were on your own. (Sad to say, but sometimes I do prefer corporate products, because they can be expected to actually work across all hardware. I don't have anything unusual, either. Orbiter apparently doesn't talk to my chip.)

seems very expensive to me, especially in the context of the pro version being demeaned.

It's extremely expensive, and now those who shelled out for the Pro version are left hanging, as new features will go into the Ultimate version mostly. In a three-tier scheme like this, the top version is usually geared toward enterprise environments (multi-user database, security, advanced connectivity or various data exchange options, etc). But to add a spell-checker module (most likely just a third-party component) and some icons and call it "ultimate" is quite... wrong IMO.

I had a quick look, but couldn't see that it (any edition) did anything that AbstractSpoon's ToDoList doesn't do. There probably is something, and the cloud links aren't in ToDoList yet, but the advantages of free, open source and still rapidly developing are substantial.

I suppose it's a matter of preference. One big difference is that ToDoList is a single-pane UI, perhaps more akin to MLO than Swift To-Do List. If you need a strong separation between your task categories (because they have nothing to do with each other), this particular interface may not be suitable.

To me though, this screenshot explains why I personally find ToDoList inconvenient:

Too many columns and fields I don't need, and the one truly important piece of data is obscured behind the horizontal scrollbar. It needs a screen that's half a mile wide. Horizontal scrolling is evil I say and should be banished. It can make the best apps unusable.

You can probably tame the columns and get the UI to where you can see more of the actual items, but the principle remains. And this is not the only example of the developers' inattention to detail. Here's another:

Lowest priorities at the top, highest at bottom. A pure WTF moment. As a work of art, it would make an unsubtle ironic statement, but as a practical everyday tool, it only makes me laugh sadly :-)

because of its agonizingly slow startup and general sluggishness while editing notes (.Net again!)

No.  Developer issues.  This is not a general .NET problem.

I will not swallow the bait... I will not swallow the bait.. I will not... :-)

Free is good! But Dextronet has recently sent me this (I'm a registered user of the Pro version):

We've recently launched new Ultimate edition of Swift To-Do List. Compared to
Professional, it adds these new features:

1) 100 new tree icons (so there is no 244 in total in Ultimate!)
2) Two-line displaying of too long task names
3) Spellchecker for notes and memos
4) Multi-level numbered lists in notes and memos (outlines)
5) Other extra Ultimate-only features that will be added in the future as free Ultimate-only upgrades.

I started with the Standard version in 2007, later upgraded to Pro. That was already quite expensive. Now in a classic bait-and-switch, they are offering a new "Ultimate" version... which has more icons and a spell-checker and a promise... for $199.95 (regular price).

I've noticed I have been avoiding using Swift To-Do List, because of its agonizingly slow startup and general sluggishness while editing notes (.Net again!), un-backup-able database (while the app is running, and it should be running all the time) and its malicious splash screen, which always shows on the active monitor only to block your view for about 10 seconds. (IMO this is literally malicious, as in, the programmer had to expend some effort to make sure the splash screen always shows on the active screen, because every time I've launched the app I so want to look at it again, every time in the five years I've been using it. Can't disable the splash screen in program options. This is one of the things that make me wonder sometimes :-) Oh, and since a version a few months back it installs not in Program Files, but under Users/AppData, which is still wrong even if Chrome does this too.

Knowing what I know now, I'd get it for free, but I won't be giving Dextronet any more money in the future.

N.A.N.Y. 2012 / Re: NANY 2012 Release: Ethervane Echo
« on: March 25, 2012, 04:23 PM »
I run an application called 'Stickies' which is a very well known , very popular desktop sticky / notes application. However whereas Ditto will paste directly into a desktop 'sticky' note, EE will not - other than using a 'manual' Ctrl-V. Any thoughts on that?

Please try the latest release. Echo should now be able to paste clips into Stickies, but only if you activate it using the activation hotkey (not the mouse).

It should also be detecting the UK English dictionary now, please let me know if this works for you.

N.A.N.Y. 2012 / Re: NANY 2012 Release: Ethervane Echo
« on: March 25, 2012, 04:18 PM »
New release March 25 (Version 1.1.2)

This release fixes important bugs. Please download and install this release, especially if you are using version 1.1.1 (published February 21).

See the top post in this thread for download links.

New in this release:

FIXED: A significant bug that would cause loss of certain clips when Echo performed database maintenance. This bug affected only certain installations, but was quite severe when it occurred.

FIXED: Minor change to allow Echo to paste clips into certain applications with non-standard windows that do not automatically regain focus (e.g. Stickes). Echo should now be able to paste clips into such applications, but only if Echo runs minimized and only if it is activated by the activation hotkey (not with the mouse).

N.A.N.Y. 2012 / Re: NANY 2012 Release: Ethervane Echo
« on: March 20, 2012, 08:27 AM »
A proper new version has been released. Information in this post is no longer current and the attachment has been removed.

I have attached a temporary fix for the bug described above. It will not bring back the damaged clips, but it will prevent more clips from being affected by the bug. Please download, unzip and replace the existing executable with the version contained in this file.

N.A.N.Y. 2012 / Re: NANY 2012 Release: Ethervane Echo
« on: March 19, 2012, 11:37 PM »
To Dan and everyone using the latest version of Echo (1.1.1):

Please read! Yep, we have a red alert here.

There is an important bug in this version that causes some data loss under certain conditions. As a result of the bug, some clips lose their data and become unusable when Echo performs database maintenance. The bug was introduced in version 1.1.1 and affects only recent installations, but just in case I ask everyone using Echo to apply a temporary fix.

Please do the following in Echo:

  • Click Tools -> Available clipboard formats.
  • Without changing anything in the dialog box, click OK.

This will refresh the list of formats stored in the database, and will add the required CF_TEXT and CF_UNICODE formats if they are not already listed in the database.

As an additional precaution, you can also temporarily disable automatic maintenance in Echo by doing the following:

  • Click Tools -> Preferences -> Database maintenance.
  • Set AutomaticMaintenance to False.

This should prevent any further data loss until I release an update (in one or two days).

How do you tell if you are affected by the bug?

You are affected, if you experience the bug described in this post:

You are affected, if the latest version (1.1.1) is the first version you ever installed, or if you have deleted and re-created the database since installing this version.

Apologies! And thanks to Dan for reporting this. A fix is coming, but for now, the two procedures described above will keep everyone's installation safe from the bug.

N.A.N.Y. 2012 / Re: NANY 2012 Release: Ethervane Echo
« on: March 19, 2012, 11:01 PM »
I even deleted the clip, then recopied it into the clipboard but I got the same error. I'll email you the same database.

Thanks for the database, it helps a lot. I can confirm your observations as well as my initial suspicion.

Some clips in the database have one of two problems:

(a) the main clip entry exists, so that the clip is displayed, but there is no actual data for the clip (the clipboard formats), i.e. Echo has nothing to put on clipboard.

(b) the main clip entry exists,  and some of its data exists, but the database has the clip's data only in HTML format (or only the rich text format). These clips can be copied (no error message in the status line), but they cannot be edited (there will be an additional error message if you try) and are therefore nearly useless as well.

As to why the database is in this state, I don't know yet. Echo requires that at least the plain text format or unicode text format is present for each clip. These formats cannot be deleted in the configuration and are always stored. If at least one of these two formats is not present, Echo will not even store such a clip in the database. In addition, these formats had to be present when Echo captured these clips, because without them Echo would not be able to display the clips in the list - and it does that.

This tells me that the clips are captured correctly, otherwise they could not even be displayed. Something happens later that causes those required formats to be removed, after which the clips become unusable.

One possibility is that there is a bug in the database maintenance routines (they changed somewhat in the current version). Perhaps Echo is deleting certain data it should not be deleting. I will recheck my sql code and will report of I find anything else.

I'm afraid the clips that won't load cannot be salvaged, as their data doesn't exist in the database. For the moment, I suggest that you disable database maintenance entirely to prevent any more clips from losing their data: Tools -> Preferences -> Database maintenance, and set AutomaticMaintenance to False. This means the clips will accumulate for a while, but this should not be a problem for at least several weeks. (You can always delete excess clips manually if you like, just as long as you don't use the Database Maintenance feature).

Meanwhile, I will try to find a fix asap.

I am also puzzled by this:

I even deleted the clip, then recopied it into the clipboard but I got the same error. I'll email you the same database.

If you tried to capture the same clip without deleting it first, then Echo might ignore it as a duplicate (depending on settings), so that the missing clip would still be missing. But if you physically deleted the clip before capturing it again, then the clip should be stored in full and behave correctly immediately after capturing. Can you please confirm that this is not the case?

A bug in the db maintenance cannot explain this last behavior, since the maintenance has to be performed for the bug to show up.

So the most important question right now is: does the bug (cannot load a clip) occur immediately after the clip has been captured? Or does it only occur at some later time (perhaps after Echo has performed db maintenance)?

N.A.N.Y. 2012 / Re: NANY 2012 Release: Ethervane Echo
« on: March 19, 2012, 02:51 PM »
I may have a bug in my Ethervane Echo program. When I click certain clips, the clip does not move to the clipboard. Instead, I get a message in the bottom right hand part of the window chrome saying "Can not load clip from database".

Thanks, Dan. This shouldn't ever happen. The error would imply that something is wrong with the database - there are some clips which are listed in the main table but are missing their actual data (in another table). I'll investigate.

Does it always occur with the same clips? For example, after the error occurs once, if you restart Echo and re-try the same clip, does it happen again, or is the clip copied?

Is there anything characteristic about these clips? (Only short clips, only new ones, only from Firefox - anything like that)?

Was there a situation where Echo crashed or was forcibly closed, for example during database maintenance? That should not really cause the error you are experiencing, because all db operations are transacted, but it's my only guess at the moment. Since all operations are performed in transactions, the db should never lose consistency like this, but clearly this has just happened.

(If the database doesn't contain anything very personal, you could email the db file to me at marek  @  tranglos    com. That way I could see if the database is missing the clip data as I suspect. Or you could of course remove any personal data from the db and use Tools -> Maintain database to compact it, as long as the db still contains some clips that won't load.)

N.A.N.Y. 2012 / Re: NANY 2012 Release: Ethervane Echo
« on: March 14, 2012, 08:31 AM »
Is this a question or a suggestion? (I'm not sure what you mean). Yes, if you changed the font of the labels, the tabs would become smaller or larger accordingly.
We have this option now? Because i don't know how to do it.
If don't, then i hope to see this option on a newer version.

No, it's not available yet. I'll see if I can add it.

and the premise is the idea that yes, corporations are required to increase value for shareholders before anything else.

Possibly. (I still don't see where it says that in the law itself BTW.) Most of the argument is by extrapolation and assertion that "this is so" rather than actual wording in the law.

This is why I said at the end that whatever the law is (in different countries), the de facto standard is what it is. And there are good examples of similar legal constructs being treated as set in stone, even though they have never been the law - such as the concept of corporate personhood.

The reason this distinction is important is because it still doesn't give a business or corporation carte blanche to break the law in the name of maximizing profit. The judicial system has been very clear about that in numerous cases.

You are correct, it doesn't give them carte blanche. They are supposed to maximize profit within the confines of applicable law, I don't think anyone is arguing otherwise. But, (a) they have a lot of money to influence what the law is, (b) too often the politicians making the law and the corporate leaders are the same people, and (c) they have good lawyers.

No-one has ever been held responsible for what Union Carbide did in Bhopal, for example. Their US workers got compensation, but not the survivors in India. Likewise, no-one has been held responsible for the financial disaster engineered by the largest investment banks. Either the law is dysfunctional in these scenarios or it doesn't exist or it is not enforced.

Just to be clear on US law, I bounced it off an attorney. She said it was a common misunderstanding of what the law requires of corporations and fiduciaries. "Just because most people might think the same way about something doesn't make it the law," she said. "As many people learn the hard way when they land in court."

Yep, so for show, a CEO or some minions occasionally land in court , while the corporation continues to exist and do as it pleases. Courts can revoke the corporate charter, which is effectively a "corporate death penalty", but it is never invoked. Instead, we're always told it's the fault of some "bad apples" at the top or just below it. It isn't. Replace the convicted jailbirds with new hires and they will continue to act in exactly the same way, only be better at hiding it.

Two and a half years ago, a girl here in Poland was walking by a bank and got severely injured when a slab of concrete fell off and hit her directly on the head. Sounds like a parable about a big bad bank, doesn't it, but it's what really happened. The left part of her body was paralyzed, she spent many months in rehabilitation but will never return to full health. Not one person has been held responsible. The bank refuses to pay compensation. Instead - and this is why the story is on the news right now -  the bank's insurer has hired a private investigator to spy in the girl at the college where she is studying.

This is not the behavior of a sane, rational, emotionally stable person. This is the behavior of a serious sociopath. Of course the bank is now paying some dues in the horrible PR they're getting on the net, but this will pass and, who knows, maybe they accounted for that in their profit and loss sheets just like GM did 40 years ago.

Are you aware of any place in the western world where a business is required at all times to maximize profit under penalty of law? I've been searching for such a thing for a long time (more out of personal curiosity than anything else) and I haven't ever been able to identify such a jurisdiction or law. Not surprising when you're as ignorant about international business law as I am. ;D

Any input would be greatly appreciated.  :)

Canadian author, professor at University of British Columbia Faculty of Law, has a fantastic (IMO) short book "The Corporation" (there's a 3 hour documentary film to go with it), where he does make that claim. In fact it is fundamental for his thesis. The thrust of the book is to show that the pathological behaviors of big corporations (of which he gives good examples, but you don't need to look far) do not happen because their CEOs are sociopaths. Rather, he says the corporation itself behaves as a sociopath since the law requires that profit be its primary goal and motivation.

If a person behaves like that, it's generally regarded as evil. We'd say a person like that would "sell their mother down the river" and it's never a good thing. Somehow the same behavior becomes a virtue when a corporation does it. Bakan shows plenty of examples where "shareholder value" trumps any ethical or moral considerations, like when the bosses at GM decided that they would rather pay compensation to victims of exploding gas tanks in Chevy Malibus (that was back in the 70s) than fix the design flaw, because fixing it would be much more expensive. They actually used an equation:

500 (estimated) fatalities x $200,000 per fatality / 41,000,000 cars = $2,40 per car.

This is what it cost GM to pay compensation, and apparently it was less costly than fixing the issue. Again, if a human being made a calculation like this, it would be considered very nearly psychopatic. For a corporation it's all in a day's work.

My personal favorite example (not from the book) is this quote from CEO of Roche Korea:

"We are not in business to save lives, but to make money. Saving lives is not our business."

In the book, Bakan lists a behaviors that are understood to be indicators of clinical psychopathy (utter disregard for the well-being of others, inability to assume responsibility, there's a whole list of markers) and demonstrates how your typical corporation fits all of them. I

think the book is quite solid, though I am not a lawyer an the book itself is not lawyerly, either. But IMO it does lay a very solid foundation for a new way of thinking about corporate behavior, and the premise is the idea that yes, corporations are required to increase value for shareholders before anything else. I highly recommend the film as well.

I would also add that something does not have to be a written law in order to be a de-facto standard and expected behavior. There is no law anywhere that says corporations are persons, and yet this is what's being argued all the time. There was a case a few years ago where a court decided a company had a right to lie to its customers since it was a freedom of speech issue. (No link at hand, sorry). The history of the "corporate personhood" idea is traced in another book I highly recommend, "Unequal protection" by Thom Hartmann. He digs in historical court records and finds out it was a court clerk that overinterpreted/misinterpreted a judge's ruling. The judge was already on his deathbed by then, and the clerk was a friend of big railroad corps at the time. No-one contested what he wrote (since it was so convenient for the interested parties) and the idea stuck, although it is not and never was a law.

"I'm not going to deny myself the enjoyment of your creation just because you haven't figured out how to collect."

I once felt this way myself, but I kinda grew up. This is extremely immature, but it's also the attitude of someone (again I was like this myself) who probably wasn't going to part with a buck to support your work anyway.

AMEN! Whether we AGREE or DISAGREE, content CREATORS have a RIGHT to charge whatever they want and to CONTROL the distribution of THEIR creations.

There's a very fine line there. Creators? Maybe. But Franz Kafka told his best friend to burn all his writings after his death - instead the guy published them and for a good reason, too. This happens all the time to many authors, both celebrated and entirely unknown while alive.

But then, the whole debate is more about music and film. In music and film, first of all there is almost never a single creator. Second, and more important, the actual creators don't really have a say in any of this, do they? It's not the creators, it's the publishers. Whoever owns the rights, usually bought for a pittance, a sliver of the actual worth.

Remember when Michael Jackson bought rights to all (or most of) the Beatles catalog? It's hard to imagine how this is even possible and legal, but hey, it is. So - theoretically - Michael Jackson could decide (back when he was still with us) that he wasn't going to permit any distribution or public performance of music by the Beatles. Does the "right to control" still apply here? I can't see why not, but I also can't see why anyone should respect that and be denied Beatle music, just because a random person now owns the rights and does with them as they see fit (again, theoretically).

There is no one right that trumps all other rights, not the free speech, not the freedom of assembly, not even the right to life. So why would property and copyright be the only rights to which there are no exceptions? When put like this, the position is untenable.

On edit: Finally, we should be talking about what is, not what we would like to be. What is is that as long as it's so much easier to download then to acquire and play legally, downloading will happen. As the OP/article says, it's not about the price, as long as the price is reasonable. It's about availability. When Amazon sells a printed book or a Kindle book only to US addresses, this is bloody ridiculous, and nobody should respect that limitation.

There was a book, pretty expensive as books go, that I could not order to Poland. Amazon would only ship it to the US. So I bought the book when I was in the US, how about that? I then brought it home with me. If the publisher has the final say, then what I did should somehow be illegal, however ridiculous that sounds. If it's a Kindle book, I can either buy it via a VPN or proxy (misrepresenting myself to Amazon), or I can maybe find a "liberated" copy on the net. I don't care which. The book has been published, hasn't it, and I really couldn't care less if an American publisher can't work out their differences with a European publisher.

This goes triple for movies and especially serial TV shows. In some countries seasons of the most popular shows are broadcast two or more years behind their US premiere. Then sometimes the local broadcaster will only by the rights to season 1 and 2, say, and forget about seasons 3 and 4. This is exactly what motivates people to download the whole thing from bittorrent, and why not? Seriously, the rights owners behave as if they did NOT want to make any money from publishing the stuff that they have. But it's their problem. Maybe they need counseling. No-one of their potential customers should lose any sleep over it.

General Software Discussion / Re: SnagIt 11
« on: March 09, 2012, 08:28 AM »
I have version 10, but am reluctant to upgrade to 11
Have you noticed how much was taken OUT of v.11?
-cranioscopical (March 07, 2012, 04:18 PM)

Looking at their list, they've removed seven features and added six. No more screenshots of full-screen command-line or dirextx apps? Removed web capture? I've never used any of these myself, but they sound rather useful. Weird!

N.A.N.Y. 2012 / Re: NANY 2012 Release: Ethervane Echo
« on: March 02, 2012, 08:35 PM »
The tabs size automatically to fit the labels. I could set them to a fixed width, but then they may be too short if a view has a longer name.
If you have the option to change manualy the font type and size from the labels, and then the tabs automatically fit to the fonts? :-[

Is this a question or a suggestion? (I'm not sure what you mean). Yes, if you changed the font of the labels, the tabs would become smaller or larger accordingly.

N.A.N.Y. 2012 / Re: NANY 2012 Release: Ethervane Echo
« on: March 02, 2012, 08:32 PM »
I can confirm it doesn't work. Stickes seems to be doing something special with its windows - unlike normal application windows, they do not acquire focus when they become "uncovered", and without focus they cannot receive input.

All right, I have a fix. Echo will now attempt to restore focus to the application that was active before Echo was invoked.

The fix will work only if Echo is activated via the hotkey. It will not work if Echo gets activated by clicking its icon in the tray, or pressing Alt+Tab etc. To make it always work, Echo would have to install a system-wide hook, and that's probably overkill, as it impacts the performance of all running applications .

The next release will be able to paste clips into Stickies, though.

N.A.N.Y. 2012 / Re: NANY 2012 Release: Ethervane Echo
« on: March 02, 2012, 11:30 AM »

I can confirm it doesn't work. Stickes seems to be doing something special with its windows - unlike normal application windows, they do not acquire focus when they become "uncovered", and without focus they cannot receive input.

Here's a simple experiment:

  • Start Word. It will have focus.
  • Start Notepad. Word will now lose focus, and you can type in Notepad.
  • Minimize Notepad.
  • Word will now have focus again, you don't have to click it before you can start typing in Word again.

Now if you try the same with Stickes instead of Word, you'll see that in step 4 after you minimize Notepad, you still cannot type in Stickies. You have to click one of the notes first. This is why when Echo tries to paste the clip, Stickies does not "get the message" (figuratively and literally both).

Spell checking while editing simply produces an error pop-up that tells me 'No Spelling dictionaries are available...' On installing EE initially I chose English (UK) and un-ticked the other 2 languages. In the Spellchecker section in Preferences it showed 'Last Language' as being English (US). After using the separate spell-checker installer the Spellchecker section appears as in my screen-shot here - no 'LastLanguage' and no 'DictionaryPath'. Changing the 'DictionaryPath' to "C:\Program Files (x86)\Ethervane\Common\Spell" (which is where the English (UK).adm file is) makes no difference. It still doesn't work, with the same error as above.

The "DictionaryPath" option is only used to add a custom dictionary folder to other folders Echo already checks for dictionaries. It's OK to use it as you did, but it should not be necessary.

Please check if the UK dictionary (English (UK).adm) exists in any of the folders listed in "Database information".  I have attached the UK dictionary to this message. You can unzip it and copy it into that folder, then restart Echo.

One more thing: did you select the UK dictionary in the list, in the editor dialog box? Since originally there were no dictionaries, the "last language" option is empty, and no dictionary is selected by default. If you click the list at the top of the dialog box, the UK dictionary should be listed there. Perhaps all you need to do is to select the dictionary in the list.

In the next release I'll make sure to pick a dictionary automatically if only one is available.

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