Welcome to InquisitorZak.tk, a magical mystical place filled with rants, ponderings, uninformed political commentary, and occasionally some stuff that just defies explanation. Hopefully you'll find something to keep you amused.

 

2009-04-01

Ended up driving through London at some absurd hour this morning. Passed by lots of fields on the way there. They all still had that awesome morning mist hanging over them. Reminded me that it's been such an incredibly long time since I last went for a proper walk. I used to go for awesome walks through misty fields all the time.

So, it's only been 5 months since my last blog post? That's actually less than I thought it was, and yet scarily a rather long time. Still, nothing like WoW to get things going again, right?

As anyone who actually plays WoW will no doubt know, Blizzard recently won their case against MDY, the makers of the WoWGlider botting software. I was particularly intrigued by a post made by Donnelly (the guy who originally wrote the software) in which he refers to William Patry (author of this here blog post) as "Google's Senior Copyright Counsel and pretty much accepted to be The Man when it comes to copyright". If Patry is "The Man", why do his arguments make no sense?

Although Patry's post is an interesting read, there are a few points that I really do have to wonder about. The first thing that started to ring alarm bells was his assertion that "WoWGilder did not contributorily or vicariously lead to violating any rights granted under the Copyright Act". While he's certainly entitled to that opinion, one feels compelled to point out that, given that the court just ruled that the exact opposite is true, he probably shouldn't so forcefully state it as a fact, especially when he makes no attempt to address the specific points of law on which the ruling was based.

He then continues: "To get to its result, the court had to first find that WoW, even though sold over the counter, was licensed not sold." As much as I might disagree with it, it has been so long established that software is licensed that by now it's almost beyond questioning. Thankfully, this time he does provide a basis for his argument, the recent Vernor v. Autodesk case. (I'll confess that I was only peripherally aware of the Vernor ruling until now, but I made a point of reading up on it.) Regardless of the specifics, I found it somewhat baffling that Patry would express surprise at the court's decision to follow a previous well-established (tried and tested on numerous occasions) Ninth Circuit precedent instead of a single apparently contradictory ruling from a lower court in a different district. Even if we were to consider the specific nuances of the Vernor precedent, that case dealt specifically with distribution, whereas this case (bizzarely, considering the claim of copyright infringement) deals solely with usage, so it's entirely possible that the decision would have been the same.

Lastly, I was all about ready to disagree with his assertion that "there was in fact no provision in the license that barred use of WoWGlider", except that I discovered, to my surprise, that it's true. The provisions barring the use of automation software lie solely within the ToU agreement (arguably where they belong), and not in the EULA. Given that the ruling so unexpectedly relies on such software being a breach of the EULA, one can't help but wonder if a future update will correct this oversight. And yes, I actually read the sodding EULA.

2008-03-05

In an unexpected about-face, MS has reversed their previous "durr, lets render stuff not to standard and pretend we're being smart" decision. Since this is a quite uncharacterstic display of responsibility from them, I've decided to remove the shitty IE hack that I was previously using from this blog. Of course this now means that this is going to render like shit in IE7, but hey, if you use a shit browser, shit is what you get.

Well, it seems my earlier skepticism of IE8's stardards-compliant rendering prowess was deserved, to a certain extent. IE8 achieved correct rendering of Acid2 only by the introduction of a new "super-standard" rendering mode, over and above the usual stardards mode.

Now, I've always said that the entire concept of having different rendering modes was the product of the most mindless crack-addled doublethink. I can understand why user agent developers chose to create their browsers this way (and given that the draft HTML5 specification makes use of the <!DOCTYPE> declaration purely for the purpose of enabling standards mode in browsers, it seems that it is here to stay), but the introduction of a further super-standards mode shows that the lessons that should have been learned from the current browsers' standards mode and the web's usage of it have simply gone flying over the heads of the IE8 developers.

Standards mode originally came about because IE used to be a piece of shit that trampled all over standards wherever it pleased, and so people created web pages that were pieces of shit trampling all over standards wherever they pleased. When IE got its act together, this would have broken old websites, and people would complain. Obviously their websites used to work, so it must be this new version's fault, right? I don't think I even need to point out how stupid it is to pander to such wrongheaded thinking. Now if we look at the reasoning for introducing this new super-standards mode… Yes, it's exactly the same. Their websites used to work (in IE6's broken "standards" mode) so it must be IE8's fault.

No. This is stupid, stupid, stupid, and doublethink like this is exactly why I have always been opposed to having different standards and quirks rendering modes in browsers. Standards mode was created on the assumption that people who use it know what the fuck they're doing. If they don't, then it's their own fault when things break, and they should learn from their mistakes and fix them. Seriously, what happens tomorrow (or next year, or six years down the line) when the hoi polloi of the web are developing to some peculiarity of IE8's super-standards mode which isn't quite right. Is IE going to come out with a new fourth super-super-standards mode? Catering to the lowest common denominator can only cause ignorance to proliferate and the quality of web standards to decline (note my earlier reference to HTML5's doctype thingy - it's entirely superfluous, and in an ideal world would not be neccessary at all). One of the arguments in the article that I linking to earlier supporting this new super-standards mode was that page authors were turning on standards mode on non-standards compliant HTML that their shitty WYSIWYG HTML editor spewed out. If people are stupid enough to do that then quite frankly they deserve to have their page rendering broken by IE8.

I think I can summarise what I'm trying to say by quoting this from the article: "One of the core tenets of development on IE is that any choices the IE team makes must not “break the web”. Sadly, IE7 did just that for quite a number of people." I would argue that the first sentence is an excellent sentiment to develop by. The second sentence is simply not true. Earlier versions of IE "broke the web" by encouraging people to write shitty non-standard HTML. IE7 took the first step towards fixing the web by "breaking" these already broken websites. IE8 is taking a step backwards by once again allowing the proliferation of breakage.

2007-12-19

I have to admit that I was just the slightest bit amused and even impressed at this post on the MSDN blog about IE8 correctly rendering the Acid2 test. The cynic in me wonders how much of this is merely Microsoft trying to score a rather technical PR win by merely supporting the small subset of the relevant standards that Acid2 relies on, rather than making an actual real effort towards standards compliance.

Indeed, such scepticism is perhaps justified by comments such as "our goal in developing Internet Explorer 8 is to support the right set of standards", where one can't help but read "the right set of standards" to mean "the standards that it suits us to". Still, the fact that IE8 does pass the Acid2 test means that there is at least some degree of standards compliance greater than that of previous versions, and this can only be a good thing.

2007-12-12

... Pope criticises green movement for dubious ideology. Kek.

Edit: Ok, I thought the pope thing was a little silly, but how about "women's rights institute criticises women for excercising their rights" for a headline? The institute in question appears to take issue with a calendar, whose proceeds are going to charity, which contains images of bikini-clad women. As if ignoring the fact that the women chose to be in that calendar wasn't enough, the spokesperson then goes on the admit that she'd have no problem with the calendar if it was full of scantily-clad men instead, proving that she and the institute she represents are in fact hypocritical sexist pigs. I mean, really, at least you could argue that the pope thing was merely a poor choice of words, as opposed to a malicious act of mind-boggling stupidity.

Hard to believe it's been nearly three months since my last blog post. Well, I say 'hard to believe'… except it's not. I really did try to blog more often, but somehow it turned out to be so hard to motivate myself. I told myself I'd make a post at the start of the summer, to sum up the past year, but this year has been sufficiently shit for me that it seemed somewhat pointless in the end.

So instead, it's time to rant about something safe: People. Yes, they're stupid, and full of shit. I was reading today's newspaper (dangerous stuff, I know), specifically bit with the letters that people had written in, and it really struck me how utterly foolish some people can be. One of the letters that really got me was pointing out how the Glasgow bombers were apparently on MI5's list of 1600 suspected terrorists. An interesting factoid, to be sure. It then went on to suggest that this was a good reason to round up every one of those 1600 people, revoke their citizenship, and deport them. Uh, right… And you don't think perhaps there's a reason they're called 'suspected terrorists' and are free to go about their business, as opposed to being called 'terrorists' and rotting away in prison? Of course the very next letter suggested that the police at the scene of the Glasgow bombing should have shot the unarmed (and frankly incompetent) terrorists in cold blood. Now, forgive me if I'm wrong, but isn't that kind of lack of due process and kangaroo court 'justice' exactly what the terrorists are trying to promote? Granted the terrorsts were resisting, but I get the feeling that this was somewhat mitigated by the whole, y'know, burning to death issue, and the flames, and the burning, and the fact that they were completely incompetent.

Anyway, people suck. Don't even get me started on the guy who suggested that global warming is all just some crazy conspiracy theory currently being promoted by the BBC.

2007-04-21

Well, ok, perhaps it's not as overdue as all that. I usually manage one post a month, and I really did try last month.

Still, I had been meaning to put something here, but I just never got around to it. What with the campus network been going up and down a bit lately, I guess it just sorta nudged me to do it now.

Faux has been getting people to retake that silly Political Compass test again, for some dark insidious purpose, most likely to prove that Linux users are all communist hippies or something. Somehow I ended up taking a big jump right, which is maybe not so unexpected, but still worrying. Ok, so maybe it's not such a "big" jump after all (I'm still quite firmly left, just less so than before) but it has put me back to almost pre-university levels on the left/right scale at least. I guess I'm just slightly annoyed that a single person could have such a profound effect on my political outlook, which is after all merely an extension of my personal beliefs.

2007-02-27

Can chocolate temper an almost physical sense of disgust at the behaviour of others? Lets find out!

(Umm, yeah, I figured it'd been a little while since my last blog post, so this is mostly here to fill in the silence.)

2007-02-08

Shock, less than a month between blog posts. Ah well.

I was reading one of those silly quiz thingies on dotwaffle's blog titled "I've done __ out of 132 stupid things". I started going through it in my head, but I only got about halfway through before the answers started to depress me. Not because I'd done particularly many of these "stupid things" (some of which really aren't all that stupid), but because a significant fraction of those that I had done could be attributed (either directly or indirectly) to a single person. Makes you wonder why we do the things we do. Is it ever really worth it to try? (Also note the horrible (ab)use of parentheses in this blog post.)

I spent quite a while pondering last weekend about whether or not to make a blog post. Now that I have, I discover it's about something completely different to what I thought it would be. Meh. My not-resolution to be a less nice person this year is starting to take shape, although it appears to be happening in ways that I'd rather it didn't. Not sure if this is a progress or not.

PUBGLUG this (yesterday) evening was great fun, even though I wasn't really in the right frame of mind to enjoy it properly. It was extremely well attended though, far more so than the CompSoc pub socials. But it was good to get back to doing LUG stuff. I wish I'd been able to attend last week's meeting, since I was even in the area, but alas, it was not to be. However, I shall definitely be attending XING tomorrow, which (due to a convoluted, yet fascinating, set of circumstances) I have been unable to attend since it was first instituted.

And then finally, of course, there is the WUGLUG elections. It's hard to believe it's been a whole year since someone (or in fact several someones) decided it would be a good idea to put me in a position of responsibility. I can't imagine what they were possibly thinking. But what a year it has been. One can only wonder what the future holds.

Oh, and as you'll probably have noticed, the, uh, temporary front page has served its purpose, and now moved on to a better place.