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Developing the First Law of Robotics

Jason Levine Re:I, Robot from a programmers perspective (144 comments)

Part of it was that and part of it was user error. In Asimov's stories, users would give robots orders, but how you phrased the order could affect the robot's performance. A poorly phrased order would result in a "malfunctioning" robot (really, a robot that was doing its best to obey the order given).

yesterday
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AT&T Proposes Net Neutrality Compromise

Jason Levine Re:You mean... (228 comments)

No, but you see this way AT&T can get payments for "fast lane access" while blaming consumers for picking the sites. No heat over "abuse of monopoly/duopoly" and more money. It's a win-win (for AT&T)!

yesterday
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AT&T Proposes Net Neutrality Compromise

Jason Levine Approved Lists? (228 comments)

So would AT&T's proposal let you "fast lane" any site? Or just a select group of major sites that AT&T has "approved"?

AT&T's idea would still allow for commercial deals between companies. But they would have to be arranged as the result of one or more subscriber requests; the ISPs couldn't offer fee-based prioritization just because they wanted to.

Oh, I see. So it's not really "I want X to be fast-laned" and then it is. It's "I want X to be fast-laned", therefore AT&T might possible approach X and demand fast lane payments. This way AT&T can pass the blame for the fast lane charges to the customers (who will also pay for those charges via increased fees for those sites) and can still pocket the money. Also, they are guaranteed that Netflix and the other Internet video companies would top the lists. Just the sites that they themselves would have targeted for extortion... I mean, fast lane payments.

yesterday
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The FCC Net Neutrality Comment Deadline Has Arrived: What Now?

Jason Levine Re:Spoilers (131 comments)

True, the public's sway over politicians isn't as strong as it should be, but at least it's there to some degree.

The same can't be said over the public's ability to dictate what Comcast does.

yesterday
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The FCC Net Neutrality Comment Deadline Has Arrived: What Now?

Jason Levine Re:Spoilers (131 comments)

Except that 99.9999% of businesses can't make a decision. They can say they support Network Neutrality, but they aren't in a position to do anything other than make statements (and, perhaps, talk to politicians about it). ISPs are in a position to either preserve Network Neutrality or trash it in favor of "pay us or your traffic slows down." Government can mandate that this kind of situation isn't acceptable. Therefore, the only acceptable options for consumers (and 99.9999% of businesses) are for ISPs to preserve Network Neutrality on their own or have the government preserve it for them. I'd prefer option #1, but given how the ISPs are drooling over money they'd make using "fast lanes", I fear option #2 will be needed.

yesterday
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The FCC Net Neutrality Comment Deadline Has Arrived: What Now?

Jason Levine Re:Spoilers (131 comments)

You can call it fraud and I'd agree with you. The problem is that most of the ISPs are monopolies or, at best, duopolies. If you want to a wired broadband connection to the Internet, you NEED to go through them. They are also big, powerful companies with plenty of lawyers to tie up fraud cases in court and lots of lobbyists to make sure the rules are written to favor themselves.

The end game of all of this isn't so much to cripple the Internet as it is to profit off of it. They see companies making a lot of money off "the Internet" and they feel that they are owed some of that money because those companies are making money off of their (the ISPs') customers. Of course, a pizza place doesn't owe money to Verizon because some of Verizon's customers use their Verizon phones to call the pizza place and order a pie. Still, the big ISPs see others making this money and want a chunk,

Moreover, they feel threatened. Internet video isn't killing off the ISPs' own video offerings, but the potential is there. They aren't stupid and so want to kill off Internet video before it becomes a threat.

When you combine a series of giant organizations with greed and seeing their existing profit centers threatened, you get a dangerous (for consumers) combination.

yesterday
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Ask Slashdot: What To Do After Digitizing VHS Tapes?

Jason Levine Re:Welp. (257 comments)

I took the "movies" reference to be "home movies." For example, a movie of your son walking for the first time. If my house burned down and I lost all of my possessions (we're assuming all family members got out just fine), what I would mourn the loss of most would be all of the photos and videos of my kids that were on our external hard drive.

I had a camera stolen from me at the end of a trip. Insurance got me a new digital camera (much nicer than the stolen one, even). However, the 100+ photos that were on the camera when it was stolen were lost forever. If given the chance, I would have happily handed the thief our camera if he had let me remove the memory card from it. (Now, when I travel, I backup photos as I go and will swap out the cards during flights just in case.)

2 days ago
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Ask Slashdot: What To Do After Digitizing VHS Tapes?

Jason Levine Re:Wow (257 comments)

On one hand, yes, you'll get tons of hits on Google for "long term video tape backup."

On the other hand, many of those hits will be old forum posts whose authors' experience is unknown, companies advertising their services (quality of which is unknown), etc. Posting on Slashdot ensures that your question will be answered by a group of experiences folks who know what they are talking about and have likely done just this sort of thing.

2 days ago
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The FCC Net Neutrality Comment Deadline Has Arrived: What Now?

Jason Levine Re:Spoilers (131 comments)

Because ISPs would immediately accept these limitations and then work behind the scenes to allow relaxing of the rules - or would flaunt them openly and get mere slaps on the wrist. Look at what happened when Verizon was under contract (having received taxpayer money) to wire an entire state with high speed access. They didn't do it and, when brought to task, argued that their wireless network counted as "wiring the state." The state government bought it and declared that Verizon lived up to their end of the contract.

The same is true for merger conditions on Comcast-Time Warner. Comcast will agree to the conditions and then will start working behind the scenes to ensure that they don't actually have to follow them.

2 days ago
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The FCC Net Neutrality Comment Deadline Has Arrived: What Now?

Jason Levine Re:Spoilers (131 comments)

The problem is, right now, we have the choice of letting the ISPs decide their own Network Neutrality policies or letting the FCC decide it.

If the ISPs decide it, you can be sure that they would enact Fast Lanes and Slow Lanes. Any content that competes with them (e.g. Internet Video Services) would get tossed into the slow lane and would be unusable unless the service paid the ISPs big money for fast lane access. As the ISPs are monopolies/duopolies, customers couldn't switch to another ISP. Requiring people to move to a different part of the country for Internet access isn't reasonable. Especially since there would be no guarantee that the ISP whose area they moved into wouldn't either get bought out or wouldn't go fast lane themselves. Letting the ISPs decide is effectively kissing Network Neutrality goodbye.

If the government decides, there's the chance of corruption (ISPs "lobby" Wheeler to make the "right" decision), but at least the government is somewhat answerable to the people. If a million people wrote to Comcast telling them not to do X and Comcast did X anyway, there would be no consequences. If a million people told the government not to do X and they did it anyway, there's a chance of consequences.

I'll agree that, ideally, it would be best if the government didn't have to get involved. Unfortunately, I don't see any scenario in which "non involvement" doesn't immediately result in Network Neutrality being killed off.

2 days ago
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The FCC Net Neutrality Comment Deadline Has Arrived: What Now?

Jason Levine Re:Now they Ignore It (131 comments)

From: Tom Wheeler
To: All My Friends At Comcast, Verizon, AT&T, etc.
Subject: Network Neutrality

Message:

I thought you guys could use a laugh... or a couple hundred thousand laughs. I've attached a file containing all of the pro-Network Neutrality comments the FCC received. The idiots actually thought we'd take their comments into consideration!

Which reminds me, let me know when you finish touching up that FCC Network Neutrality Policy so we can publicly release it.

Your humble servant,

Thomas Wheeler

2 days ago
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New Details About NSA's Exhaustive Search of Edward Snowden's Emails

Jason Levine Re:Again? (193 comments)

Good point. With a normal organization, it's a good idea to put any objections in writing and in a form that can be tracked by both you and your managers, such as within e-mail messages. This way, if you say "Project A would violate these laws" and your manager says "Continue with Project A anyway", he can't later blame you for not bringing this to his attention.

The NSA is anything but a normal organization. There are enough people who have worked for the NSA and have tried to say "Project A would violate these laws" who have found themselves targeted by the NSA. So the NSA might be telling the truth (Snowden never e-mailed his concerns to anyone) while not telling the whole truth (because, had he done so, we would have had him arrested on trumped up charges to shut him up).

2 days ago
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Apple Outrages Users By Automatically Installing U2's Album On Their Devices

Jason Levine Re:First world problems. (602 comments)

Yes, this was a single album right now, but this opens the door to future "promotions" of this sort.

Imagine that this promotion turns into a regular event. At semi-regular intervals, Apple users find new albums added to their listings. These albums might be things the users like, but it's more likely that the albums are just "who cut a deal with Apple this month." That "skip past that one you don't like" would turn into "weed through those Apple Promotion albums to find the ones you actually want."

Apple is hurting their platform by doing this. If people think that their music library will be polluted by Apple selecting songs for them, they'll look into migrating to another service like Amazon.

2 days ago
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New Details About NSA's Exhaustive Search of Edward Snowden's Emails

Jason Levine Re:Again? (193 comments)

At this point, you can pretty much take them at the opposite of their word.

For example, if they say "We didn't find any evidence that Snowden raised concerns about our program", then this really means "We found evidence that Snowden raised concerns about our program." You can also add the following implied section onto that statement: "We want to cover up the fact that he raised concerns, though, because it doesn't fit the narrative we'd like to build of Snowden as a traitor to the US who should have voiced his concerns through 'official channels' instead of someone who had grave concerns about a NSA program, tried to voice those concerns, and was told to keep quiet."

2 days ago
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Turning the Tables On "Phone Tech Support" Scammers

Jason Levine Re:What is wrong with people? (208 comments)

You would think they'd stop before they'd send away $25,000 or more, but...

The problem, once you've fallen for the Nigerian scammers, is that it can be hard to admit you've been scammed and have lost money. You can either admit that and realize you were an idiot, or keep believing that this $1,000 you're sending will finally unlock those millions that are "obviously" coming your way. The deeper these people fall for these scams, the harder it can be to admit that it was a scam and that there never were millions coming to you. So they keep going deeper and deeper in the vain hope that they will finally reach their payday.

4 days ago
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Turning the Tables On "Phone Tech Support" Scammers

Jason Levine Re:What is wrong with people? (208 comments)

They called my father and he almost fell for it. He got wise and called me when they said they were going to have him install software so they could remote in. He had just enough sense to know NOT to do that without asking me. He had told me a similar thing. It sounded fishy, but he was having trouble with Microsoft Office and so thought maybe this was related to it. When my response was "Hang up!", he actually argued with me "But what if they are legitimate?" Finally, he accepted that it was a scam and hung up. Luckily, he's not the type to fall for something twice so when they called him back, all they got from him was a verbal tirade from him followed by a hang-up.

Now my wife's grandmother is another story. No matter how many times we tell her "don't do X", she keeps falling for this stuff.

4 days ago
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Turning the Tables On "Phone Tech Support" Scammers

Jason Levine Re:How about (208 comments)

We use Google Voice for our "home" phone number. When a call comes in, it rings our phones and we have the option to answer or send it to voicemail (where we can listen in and answer at any point). The exception to this is that we can mark a number as "spam." If we do this, they get a "This number is no longer in service" message and our phone doesn't ring. Double benefit in that we don't get harassed by them and they might just take us off their list for having a non-working number.

4 days ago
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Accused Ottawa Cyberbully Facing 181 Charges Apologizes

Jason Levine Re: What about his "victims'" actions? (140 comments)

My boys will often fight (as siblings do). They're not subtle, but one kid will sometimes do something that annoys the other. The second retaliates with a punch or a kick which I see. The second gets in trouble while the first might get off. I don't punish based on "he did X and that's why I hit him" because that's just an open license to have one kid punch the other kid and then make up a reason to get the other kid in trouble. I'll always tell the puncher/kicker, "if you came to me to let me know what he did, he would have gotten in trouble. Instead, by doing this, you're the one in trouble."

My hope is that my boys learn this lesson before they grow up. If they do, they'll be ahead of this guy (assuming he was harassed).

5 days ago
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Accused Ottawa Cyberbully Facing 181 Charges Apologizes

Jason Levine Re:Right. (140 comments)

If he spent 10 years doing this, had a mysterious change of heart, and apologized it would be one thing.

Spending 10 years doing this and apologizing once you've been arrested and are facing charges, though, is something entirely different.

5 days ago

Submissions

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What To Do With Old Domains

Jason Levine Jason Levine writes  |  about a year ago

Jason Levine (196982) writes "While looking to buy a new domain for a website idea I had, I realized that over the years I've purchased quite a few domain names. I'm not a domain hoarder by any stretch of the imagination, but 14 domains isn't a small number either. Of those domains, only 6 are actively being used. Many of the others were used for web projects that died out or that never launched. I could let the domains expire or possibly sell them (some might actually take in some cash), but I'm afraid of the domains being grabbed by spammers or other nefarious individuals. Holding onto them is an option, but increasingly I'm wondering why I'm paying annual fees for domain names that I'm not using and likely will never use again.

How do you handle old domain names in your possession that you no longer need?"
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Best Science Fiction/Fantasy for 8 Year Olds

Jason Levine Jason Levine writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Jason Levine (196982) writes "My son is 8 years old. I'd love to get him interested in Science Fiction, but most of the books I can think of seem to be targeted to older kids/adults.

Thinking that the length of some novels might be off-putting to him, I read him some of the short stories in Isaac Asimov's "I, Robot". He liked these but I could tell he was having a hard time keeping up. I think the wording of the stories was too advanced and there was too much talking and not enough action. Personally, I love Asimov, but I think much of it just went over his head.

Which science fiction and/or fantasy books would you recommend for an 8 year old? (Either stories he could read himself or that we could read together over the course of a few weeks.)"
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Teaching Your Children Computer Skills At Home

Jason Levine Jason Levine writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Jason Levine (196982) writes "My son's school district, like many across the country, is facing budget issues. Already, art and music are being cut and two elementary schools are likely to be shut down. (One of which my son currently attends.) My wife recently found out that our school doesn't even have a computer teacher. Nobody's teaching the kids how to use word processing programs, how to browse the Internet, etc. They have "computer time" in which someone watches over them while the kids are allowed to visit PBSKids.org and similar websites.

My son is very bright and computer savvy for a first grader, but obviously I want him to know how to do more than simply load up a website. We've discussed home schooling with varying degrees of seriousness. Even if we don't home school, we might want to supplement what he's learning in school with computer lessons at home. My wife is a teacher and has access to various resources, but I was wondering what resources the Slashdot community might recommend.

How do you teach your children about computers and how to use them? Do you know of any websites or programs that would be appropriate for my first grade son to use? (I've already introduced him to TuxPaint, TuxMath and TuxTyping.)"
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Theft of Services Claim with Honor System Paywall

Jason Levine Jason Levine writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Jason Levine (196982) writes "Towards the end of the day yesterday, I received an e-mail from someone claiming that my company's employees had been stealing his services. I always take claims like this seriously, so I read on. Apparently, his website is called the North Country Gazette. It appears to be a "news" site, but structured like a blog. Each article contains the text: "Free access to The North Country Gazette is limited to one visit, one article, no exceptions. After your free trial, a subscription is needed and without same, your access will be denied. To sign up, see subscription ad on this page. If you have questions, contact us at news@northcountrygazette.org"

The e-mail claimed theft of services because an employee visited two articles without paying. I thought it might be a scam (the threatening tone of the e-mail didn't help) so I visited the site to make sure it was legit. Soon after my one article view, I received a second e-mail calling me "obstinate", telling me to "do your job instead of surfing the internet" and threatening legal action if we visited his site again.

The thing is, though, he doesn't seem to have any kind of paywall in place. No mechanism to detect if a user has viewed an article and stop them from viewing more like other paywalls I've encountered. Just a system to detect when his honor system isn't honored. How seriously should I take his threats? Can someone really sue over theft of services due to three page views (four if you count me accessing his home page)? Can some small text on a website (which doesn't even contain a "pay here" link) really bind you into paying for a subscription? I will definitely be informing my company's legal counsel, but I was wondering if anyone on Slashdot has heard of anything like this?"
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Killer Sue Wikipedia To Remove Their Names

Jason Levine Jason Levine writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Jason Levine (196982) writes "Wolfgang Werlé and Manfred Lauber killed a German actor in 1990. Now that they are out of prison, German law states that they can't be referred to by name in relation to the killings. Therefore, they have sued to get Wikipedia to remove their names from the Wikipedia article about the killings. The German edition of Wikipedia has already complied, but the English edition is citing US freedom of speech and a lack of presence in Germany as reasons why they don't need to remove the name. In a bit of irony, their lawyer e-mailed the NY Times: “In the spirit of this discussion, I trust that you will not mention my clients’ names in your article.""
Link to Original Source
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Ask Slashdot: Inexpensively Streaming Media?

Jason Levine Jason Levine writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Jason Levine (196982) writes "I recently won a Roku box and my family and I have been enjoying watching Netflix movies/TV shows via it. So much so, in fact, that we are considering canceling our cable service. Canceling cable would save us $65 a month. Of course, this would mean the loss of a big entertainment source for my children (age 6 and 2), my wife and me. We have a decent DVD collection, but it tends to be hard to find the right DVD and play it for the boys. (The DVDs are in stacks and tend to get disorganized.) I'd rather rip them to my upstairs computer and stream the video, but I need some help.

First of all, we don't have a large budget to work with. Yes, we'd be saving per month without the cable bill, but my wife won't let me spend thousands on equipment so that we can save $800 a year. That said, our requirements are low. We don't have any HD televisions in the house and don't have plans to upgrade our existing sets anytime soon. So while it might be nice if the solutions can handle HD, there's no need to spend more money on an HD-compatible product.

Secondly, running ethernet cable is out of the question. My wife refuses to let me drill holes in the walls/floor and to be honest, I don't blame her. My wireless network (current router a Netgear WGR614 v5) tends to cut out at times. Powerline networking intrigues me, but the wiring in the house is old and I'm afraid that it won't be a stable connection. Another option I found was ethernet-over-coax. Would I be better off upgrading my wireless network (replacing the router and/or adding an access point somewhere) or going with a powerline or coax solution?

Third, ditching cable would mean we would lose our cable-provided DVR. While most shows we watch would be viewable via Hulu, we would like to still be able to record shows (especially kids shows on PBS) and play them later. What kind of DVR system would you recommend?

Lastly, my desktop computer isn't exactly the newest system in the world. It is 6 years old and, while not underpowered, might not be up to handling some tasks. Would I be better off building or buying a DVR/Media Center box? If so, how much would I wind up paying for this?

Thanks for any advice you can give."
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Wii outsells 360, PS3, PS2, PSP combined in April

Jason Levine Jason Levine writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Jason Levine writes "Ars Technica is reporting that, during the month of April, the Nintendo Wii outsold not only the XBox 360 and the Sony PS3, but the 360, PS3, PS2, and PSP combined. The Nintendo Wii sold 714,200 units. Microsoft's XBox 360 sold 188,000 units and Sony's PS3 sold 187,100 units. The PSP moved 192,700 units and the PS2 moved 124,400 units. In addition, six of the top 10 games sold in April were Nintendo Wii games."
Link to Original Source

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