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Comments

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Hidden Obstacles For Delivery Drones

Camael Clay pigeon (201 comments)

There is no specific law against it, just like there is no law specifically against throwing bowling balls at passing bicyclists. But there are general laws against endangering or harming other people, or intentionally destroying other people's property.

If the drone is flying in my backyard without permission, isn't it trespassing on my premises? Am I therefore not allowed to defend the sanctity and privacy of my home by shooting it out of the sky with extreme prejudice? For all I know, it could be carrying a camera... or a bomb... or a firearm (unlikely I'll grant you, but sadly in today's climate not impossible).

Or to use a clearer example, if I observe that the drone is in danger of crashing into my 4-year-old son and I shoot it out of the sky, I am confident that it would not be held a crime.

My point being that the legal position of drones is far from clear.

12 hours ago
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Hidden Obstacles For Delivery Drones

Camael Is this some kind of secret code? (201 comments)

I keep getting a naggy feeling that these anonymous posts with over-the-top claims are some kind of coded communication.

Think about it - in today's times when all communication is tapped, saved, processed and filtered by supercomputers, what better way to convey coded information or pass instructions than to post in the open, on public boards, buried in posts adopting the same manner and tone as thousands of other crack-pot posts?

And if the secret is in danger of being let loose, to immediately flood the forum with derisive posts decrying the "conspiracy" -after all, nobody likes looking stupid or gullible.

Or maybe I need more sleep.

12 hours ago
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Should police have cameras recording their work at all times?

Camael Everyone has something to hide (401 comments)

My opinion is likely to be rather unpopular in these parts, but in the interests of fairness, it needs to be said. I hope those who disagree with me will do me the courtesy of explaining why instead of blindly following the herd.

I disagree that police ought to carry always-on cameras. Police officers are humans too, like you and I and all of us have things we would prefer not to be recorded on video for posterity. Small but embarassing things like digging your nose, loosening your belt after a good meal, private calls with family members, complaining to friends about the boss, sharing scandalous gossip or dirty jokes... the list goes on. Everyone is entitled to their own privacy and carrying a badge should not strip you of these human foibles.

There is a very big difference between the private matters of private citizens and the actions of government employees in the conduct of their public roles. For that reason, always-on police cameras seem quite reasonable, so long as they can be switched off or set aside as soon as the officer goes off duty and resumes being a private citizen.

You appear to be arguing that government employees ought to be monitored to ensure proper conduct of their public roles. Using the same argument, we should then demand that all government employees carry a camera- after all, I want to make sure that the officer who rejected my visa application did so with just cause; ditto the DMMV lady who refused my driver's licence. Doubly so for public officials and politicians of all stripes- after all, the laws they pass or block have the potential to affect the lives of millions. My point being that, if you rely on this ground as justification, it should be applied broadly to all government employees, not just police officers.

From the public's point of view- do we really want to build a more intrusive society than the one we have at present? Bear in mind, the cameras will be recording from the police officer's viewpoint- i.e. the cameras will be recording us. If every officer is a walking CCTV, how much privacy will the public really have? Too much of public space is already being recorded as it is.

My final thought is that all these demands for cameras-on-cops is hysteria and overreaction from the public. There will always be misbehaving police officers and adding cameras on their shoulders will not change that. We should be wary that the proposed solution may be worse than disease, taking the example of how the Patriot Act was born out of a overreaction towards the 911 incident.

12 hours ago
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Grand Ayatollah Says High Speed Internet Is "Against Moral Standards"

Camael So where is it (502 comments)

I am of the same opinion, and I can provide evidence. ...Fast forward to 2013. The Internet is operating at Gb/s speeds in the civilized countries and at Mb/s everywhere else. Most of the content in porn, spam, fake illegal downloads, various scams and viruses.

So where is the "evidence" you claim to have? Your "evidence" seems to have originated from your gut. There is a lot less porn on the internet than you think

The dubious provenance of statistics about porn are well-known inside the tech industry.

"We are aware that a number of statistics are being used in relation to online safety and have concerns over their accuracy," said Nicholas Lansman, secretary general of ISPA, which represents net supply firms. Anyone quoting stats should check their veracity, he said.

"It is vital that any decisions in relation to online safety, like any other policy area, are based on evidence rather than myths and assertions," he added.

yesterday
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Yahoo Stops New Development On YUI

Camael Re:Continuous improvements to IE for Windows 7 (77 comments)

People who can't give up IE might end up having to upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 8.1 with Classic Shell.

Or, they could just stick with the browser and OS that they currently own.

I suspect that most people who can't give up IE fall into 2 broad categories, namely those who need it for work to access some legacy corporate website and those who use IE for convenience because it came with their OS by default.

Neither of these categories need the best and the brightest, and are thus likely to stick with the status quo (i.e. whatever works) unless forced to change. And when forced to change, they are probably going to rely on others to sort it out for them, whether it is their corporate IT department or their computer literate friends/family. In any case, expending cash on a new user unfriendly OS just to keep a browser's functionality is likely a less popular option than upgrading to one of the many free modern browsers available.

2 days ago
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A Horrifying Interactive Map of Global Internet Censorship

Camael Taking responsibility for yourself (158 comments)

Yes I chose to watch it and now after watching it I think that there should have been some responsibility taken to remove it.

Or, you could take some responsibility for the bad choice you made. Nobody put a gun to your head and forced you to watch it. Your complaint is the equivalent of a child who wants to ban all use of fire after having burnt himself despite being warned of its dangers.

I also like the way you passed the buck to that mythical "somebody" who you say should have done something about the video. Why don't you do something about it yourself? Besides raging on the internet?

It's shocking how little you value your freedom of choice. Trading away your right to access information (note- I said access, you can always choose not to exercise that right by not clicking on the video) in return for the warm safety blanket of censorship protecting you from discomfort.

And best of all, because of your own personal discomfort, you feel that it is all right to enforce the same restrictive censorship on others who may not be as weak stomached as you, and to strip them of their freedom of choice.

about a week ago
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Uber Has a Playbook For Sabotaging Lyft, Says Report

Camael Re:Not Sharing (182 comments)

If you are making a profit from taking someone where they want to go it is no longer sharing it is working.

Exactly, and working is evil. The government should make them stop.

Well now, I could probably make a cushy living transporting immigrants across the border for a hefty payoff, this is working, right?.

Please. Not all work for pay is legal, nor should it be.

about a week ago
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Uber Has a Playbook For Sabotaging Lyft, Says Report

Camael Cheaper, but at what cost? (182 comments)

Uber and Lyft are both much cheaper than traditional "regulated" taxis, and this scheme only cost the other company and driver. So as a consumer, why do I care?

Well you should care, because if you get into an accident, you're paying on your own. That's what the family of this poor girl hit by an Uber driver found out.

A key aspect of Uber's business model is that it claims it is not a transportation provider, it does not employ any of the drivers accepting rides on its platform, and it does not accept liability for their actions. The state Public Utilities Commission in September voted to require Uber to get a $1 million per incident commercial liability policy, but Uber — which argues the PUC has no jurisdiction to regulate a communications application — has appealed that ruling.

And frankly I see no justification for Uber not to get insurance coverage for their drivers.

For comparison, look at New York's taxi medallion system. All it has done is raise the entry price to astronomical levels, which leaves the consumer paying outrageous prices and the drivers making very little.

I agree that the NYC regulatory system is rife with abuse, but the fault lies in the execution. All laws are prone to abuse if your have corrupt politicians in charge. You can't use the excuse that laws have the potential to be abused to not pass any laws or regulations.

I would argue instead that there should be some regulation, as least insofar as the public safety and health hazard aspects are concerned. Lets face it- all private enterprises are in the business to make money. One way of doing that is to reduce costs as low as possible, including paying for things like insurance, background checks on drivers etc. If there is no legal compulsion you can bet that they will cut these costs to the bone.

about a week ago
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850 Billion NSA Surveillance Records Searchable By Domestic Law Enforcement

Camael What say the people on the inside? (207 comments)

Have you worked in the MIC? I grew-up in it, served, and went on to do DoD contracting once I got out. Nothing crazy high level classification, run of the mill secret stuff and it has been obvious from the inside for a long, long time. Which is why I got out.

Which raises an interesting question- how do those people working for the NSA and other intel agencies reconcile their conscience with the work that they are doing? All these systems etc need operatives to run, to gather information, to decrypt and analyse etc. This kind of work I would imagine requires people with a more than average level of intelligence and education. Sure they must bear witness to the abuses being perpetrated on their own people. How do they sleep at night?

Even the Stasi operatives at the time when East Germany existed have the comfort of knowing that their cooperation was secured by state sanctioned penalties. These NSA people have no such excuse.

about a week ago
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850 Billion NSA Surveillance Records Searchable By Domestic Law Enforcement

Camael Correction (207 comments)

Basically, she enjoyed inflicting pain on other people by denying access to painkillers. All while living quite a cushy life herself.

That's pretty much a lie, and character assassination. There is no evidence anywhere that she "enjoyed inflicting pain on other people". The quotes attributed to her and the Slate article in particular (which is suspect, seeing that the article's author wrote a book "The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice" and obviously has a vested interest in drumming up sales and controversy) does not say this.

As for the part about "denying access to painkillers" - this is misleading. Context, my dear, context. As stated in her Wikipedia entry :-

the use of opioids in India for managing cancer pain remains—ten years after Mother Teresa's death—highly problematic for legal, regulatory, cultural, and other reasons (including supply interruptions, harsh punishments imposed for even minor infractions of the rules, and the fear of addiction by health workers). Despite the lack of sophisticated analgesic regimes, volunteers (including those with western medical qualifications and experience) reported that her Home for the Dying was a place of joy not sadness.

Apart from that, I do not understand why her failings seem to offend you so much. It seems almost personal.

about a week ago
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Airbnb To Hand Over Data On 124 Hosts To New York Attorney General

Camael It is a public safety issue (149 comments)

As soon as money changes hands it is no longer a "private arrangement". When you charge for a place to stay you are now a hotel unless it is on a month to month basis then you have a roommate. If you are providing the same service as a hotel you are operating a hotel. It is not a "public safety" issue.

This summary is inaccurate - it is a "public safety" issue. In the Nigel Warren case where he rented out his room on Airbnb in NYC, the judge levied a fine of fine of $2,400 after ruling that they were operating an unlicensed hotel.

The law on which the decision was based, Bill S6873B-2009 states:-

JUSTIFICATION:

The Multiple Dwelling Law and local Building, Fire and Housing Maintenance Codes establish stricter fire safety standards for dwellings such as hotels that rent rooms on a day to day (transient) basis than the standards for dwellings intended for month to month (permanent) residence. There are substantial penalties for owners who use dwellings constructed for permanent occupancy (Class A) as illegal hotels. However, the economic incentive for this unlawful and dangerous practice has increased, while it is easier than ever to advertise illegal hotel rooms for rent to tourists over the internet ... It endangers both the legal and illegal occupants of the building because it does not comply with fire and safety codes for transient use.

I.e. The reasoning given for the law was to protect public safety, specifically to ensure compliance with fire and safety codes.

about a week ago
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Dropbox Caught Between Warring Giants Amazon and Google

Camael Re:Yeah, as music artists know, not so fun is it? (275 comments)

Even the biggest artists make most of their money from touring, merchandising, and product endorsements,
In Asia, where large scale commercial piracy is a fact of life, music artists only make money from non-album sales.

This, so much. Unless he is a big name with a sweet record deal, the average musician doesn't really earn much from his record sales.

Every contract is different, but the average high-end royalty deal with a record company will pay musicians $1 for every $10 retail album sale. And it can be a lot worse than that; a low-end royalty deal only pays 30 cents per album sale -- amazingly small for a CD purchase, especially considering that bands may have to divide that among several members.

Some musicians have already adapted with the times to seek income alternatives. And apparently some if not most of these income streams are far more lucrative than royalties.
 

about a week ago
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Dropbox Caught Between Warring Giants Amazon and Google

Camael How do you tell when competition is fair? (275 comments)

While I broadly agree with your ideal that fair competition is good for customers and specifically with the example you gave, there is more to cheap prices than meets the eye. For example, not that long ago Walmart got into trouble for predatory pricing.

The complaint accused Wal-Mart of selling butter, milk, laundry detergent, and other staple goods below cost at stores in Beloit, Oshkosh, Racine, Tomah, and West Bend. A bottle of laundry detergent that cost Wal-Mart $6.51, for example, was sold for less than $5 at several stores> . The company’s intention, according to the complaint, was to force competitors out of business, gain a monopoly in local markets, and ultimately recoup its losses through higher prices.

I think most people will agree this kind of competition is bad from the consumer's point of view. The problem is, it is very hard to prove intention. That very same marketing tactic, i.e. selling products at or below their cost price, is also a popular marketing tactic known as loss leading.

It’s a classic retail technique: Attract shoppers by lowering prices on certain items, with the idea that once customers are in the store, they’ll buy full-priced items as well.

From the merchant's point of view, he is willing to take a loss on some items to earn traffic for his other goods. To his competitors selling the same loss leader items however, this is unfair competition. My point is, it is a very thorny issue deciding when certain competitive strategies are fair or unfair and much depends on the facts of each case.

about a week ago
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Latest Wikipedia Uproar Over 'Superprotection'

Camael Is this unaffiliated substantial coverage? (239 comments)

Since no one answered this question, I did a simple google search which threw up these results :-

Nimrod: A New Systems Programming Language
Category:Nimrod
Consider the Nimrod Programming Language
What I like about the Nimrod programming language
Araq/Nimrod
Nimrod: A New Approach to Metaprogramming
Nimrod: A new statically typed, compiled programming language which supports metaprogramming

I am just a layman when it comes to Wikipedia editing, but it looks pretty substantial to me. It would appear that the complaint that notability requirements are too strict has just cause.

about two weeks ago
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Latest Wikipedia Uproar Over 'Superprotection'

Camael Re:Too much good content is deleted at Wikipedia. (239 comments)

I had vaguely known there was some other historical use, but like cretin , imbecile and moron, it's become a common derogatory word. I suspect that it is a regional thing. English speaking nations all have their unique slang terms after all.

The derogatory meaning associated with nimrod appears to be an exclusively American slang .

I find it highly amusing that this form of usage likely originates from Bugs Bunny cartoons!

about two weeks ago
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Skype Blocks Customers Using OS-X 10.5.x and Earlier

Camael Yes, boo Microsoft (267 comments)

Let met know when Apple allows other Os's can use Imessage. That is when they get it fixed.

I don't currently use any Apple products, but even I can tell there is a difference between a messaging system that was built right from the start to be locked out of its competitor's OS and one which originally was platform independent, but had that feature removed.

To use a simple car analogy, if I bought a car knowing from the start it only ran on fuel brand X, so be it. If I bought a car which could run on all types of fuel, and during routine maintenance at the shop they changed a part so that it only ran on fuel brand Y, I would be mightily pissed.

Surely you can appreciate the difference.

about a month ago
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City of London Police Take Down Proxy Service Over Piracy Concerns

Camael Re:Not a private police force (133 comments)

Regarding the authority "issue" - the City of London Police seizing a domain name is no different to the Metropolitan Police seizing it, the jurisdictional "issues" are the same. The reason the City of London Police are doing this a lot is because they are highly specialised in economic crime detection, investigation and enforcement, so combating criminal level copyright infringement is in fact one of their specialities.

The problem however is the legality of the very act of the police in seizing domain names. Apparently, they do not have the power to do so. Instead, they request the "cooperation" of registrars who are threatened with possible legal sanctions in the same breath. Here is an excerpt of one of their letters :-

“Suspension of the domain(s) is intended to prevent further crime. Where possible we request that domain suspension(s) are made within 48 hours of receipt of this Alert. In respect of the information provided by us, we respectfully ask you to consider your liability and the wider public interest should those services be allowed to continue.”

I don't think you should be comfortable with the police making threats to force registrars to shut down online services in the absence of any court orders, findings of liability or any judgment that the online service is in fact against the law.

about a month ago
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City of London Police Take Down Proxy Service Over Piracy Concerns

Camael Re:Let's see if I get this right... (133 comments)

The police, who wants to fight piracy which is claimed to be happening by the corporations, go bust servers with neither warrants nor court orders. What exactly are making these claims legit enough to skip due process? Or is due process some sort of privilege that we shouldn't expect them in the first place?

They're probably getting away with it because nobody is challenging them AFAIK.

about a month ago
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US Intelligence Wants Tools To Tell: Who's the Smartest of Them All?

Camael Re: not again! (162 comments)

They gotta narrow down the choices of who to inject the super soldier serum into, ya know. Save the taxpayer's money.

They ain't gonna find him on Capitol Hill, that's for sure.

about a month ago
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Ecuador To Forge Ahead With State-Backed Digital Currency

Camael Re:Yet another fiat currency (85 comments)

Now that so many people have mobile phones it makes perfect sense to print less banknotes and use phones as digital wallets.

Perfect sense to the currency issuers and banks, who stand to save on costs associated with the production, transportation and security of physical cash, but less so to the actual users themselves. There are still numerous situations where using physical cash is still superior to digital wallets such as-

Ease of use- there is literally nothing simpler than me handing you the money, you handing me the goods. No fiddling with passwords and praying that the authenticating servers are online. Or worrying about batteries going flat in mobile phones.

Secure medium of storage- Paper money stored properly can last for on average 15 years. I have doubts whether any electronic wallet are as long lasting, not to mention the associated difficulties of maintaining your device, the apps or encountering the horror of corrupted wallets.

Easily divisible- Say my kid needs 10 bucks to buy ice-cream. I peel off a bill and hand it to him. You can't do that with an electronic wallet AFAIK.

My point being that at least in the near future, I see physical cash still playing a major part in our lives.

about a month ago

Submissions

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Don't like a patent? Help kIll it.

Camael Camael writes  |  about a year ago

Camael (1048726) writes "When Joel Spolsky spotted an undeserving Microsoft patent application, he didn't just let it be granted — He killed a in just a few minutes. In short, he found prior art and submitted it, and the USPTO examiner rejected the patent because of it. From TFA :- "Micah showed me a document from the USPTO confirming that they had rejected the patent application, and the rejection relied very heavily on the document I found. This was, in fact, the first 'confirmed kill' of Ask Patents, and it was really surprisingly easy. I didn't have to do the hard work of studying everything in the patent application and carefully proving that it was all prior art: the examiner did that for me." This is all under the umbrella of Ask Patents'."
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Transparency and the PRISM programme

Camael Camael writes  |  about a year ago

Camael (1048726) writes "When President Obama took office, he issued a "Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies" where he stated that :-

Government should be transparent. Transparency promotes accountability and provides information for citizens about what their Government is doing... My Administration will take appropriate action, consistent with law and policy, to disclose information rapidly in forms that the public can readily find and use.

After the PRISM program was revealed, in an interview with Charlie Rose on 17 June 2013, when asked whether the program was transparent, President Obama stated that :-

It is transparent, that’s why we set up the FISA court...My concern has always been not that we shouldn’t do intelligence gathering to prevent terrorism but rather are we setting up a system of checks and balances? So, on this telephone program you have a federal court with independent federal judges overseeing the entire program and you’ve got Congress overseeing the program.

Politifact.com opines that

We don’t doubt that there are good reasons for secrecy at the court, but if you’re going to operate a mostly secret court, you also don’t get to crow about how "transparent" it is. The president can’t have his cake and eat it, too.

Do you think having the FISA Court oversee the PRISM requests make the process transparent?"

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Snowden discloses US hacked Asia Pacific fibre-optic network operator

Camael Camael writes  |  about a year ago

Camael (1048726) writes "In an exclusive provided to the South China Morning Post, a newspaper based in Hong Kong, Snowden revealed that computers at the Hong Kong headquarters of Pacnet – owner of one of the biggest fibre-optic networks in the Asia-Pacific region – were hacked by US spies in 2009. Accoding to their corporate website, Pacnet owns and operates the leading pan-Asian fiber optic submarine cable network spanning 36,800 kilometers that lands in 19 cable landing stations and extends from India to the US."

Journals

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