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NSA Publishes Blueprint For Top Secret Android Phone

RareButSeriousSideEf Gotta love /. headlines... (172 comments)

Sensationalistic, inaccurate, or self-contradictory, pick any two.

more than 2 years ago

UN Pushes Plan To Assume Internet Governance Role

RareButSeriousSideEf Re:Two bad choices (287 comments)

There is too much profit potential in regulatory power for neutrality ever to emerge from the political process. If something 'neutral' happens, it will be organically -- perhaps partly through migration to completely unregulated channels (darknets, anonymized and encrypted subnets, etc.).

more than 2 years ago

New Opa S4 Release Puts Forward New 'ORM' For MongoDB

RareButSeriousSideEf Re:When programming tools and databases meet.. (29 comments)

My dream environment = perfect representation of data in flexible/dynamic objects in a programming language, disconnected or connected to databases with nearly identical, flexible and dynamic data model representation, with a powerful query language (SQL-like), the scalability of the new generation of shared-nothing architectures, simple connectivity options (simple sockets all the way up to REST) and the reliability of a relational database's ACID properties.

Amen. Your storage layer shouldn't dictate your usage patterns; quite the opposite, actually. But domain entities seldom conform to a single usage pattern -- there's one set of them in OLTP, and OLAP, and another for use in realtime incides, etc. Having to have myriad representations of an object just to accommodate different persistence patterns is wasteful.

more than 2 years ago

Russian Scientists Revive Plant From 30,000-Year-Old Seeds

RareButSeriousSideEf Obligatory tag (162 comments)


more than 2 years ago

French Court Frowns On Autocomplete, Tells Google To Remove Searches

RareButSeriousSideEf Blocking France Completely (343 comments)

I was going to suggest something similar: remove their physical footprint from that bizarre regime's jurisdiction & put a 'Sorry' page up in place of (French users could go to another French-language-centric Google incarnation, and Google could still index France-specific results from elsewhere.)

more than 2 years ago

EPA Bans CFC-Based Asthma Inhalers

RareButSeriousSideEf Re:government idiots (394 comments)

Often when something is banned from the marketplace and its replacement is significantly more expensive, you will find the people who profit from the added cost were among those lobbying for the ban, if not drafting it.

I haven't dug into the details behind this particular case, but I wouldn't be surprised if utility or manufacturing patents are involved in the price increase.

more than 2 years ago

EPA Bans CFC-Based Asthma Inhalers

RareButSeriousSideEf Re:government idiots (394 comments)

Wait, who gave the EPA the authority to ban drugs?

I don't know the nuances of the limits to their authority, honestly. But if a bureaucratic agency 'bans' something they don't have the authority to take out of the marketplace, what can they do to manufacturers, distributors and retailers who continue to make and move the product?

It seems that producers think they have to launch lawsuits when a bureaucracy oversteps its authority. Why not but the onus back on the bureaucracy to stop them?

more than 2 years ago

Obama To Sign 'America Invents Act of 2011' Today

RareButSeriousSideEf Crony capitalism (244 comments)

They imagined it, they were fully aware of the possibility and propensity for rulers to abuse their powers and collude against the best interests of the governed, and they tried to put two crucial things in place to prevent it: Checks and balances, and limitations of powers.

Once we demanded that politicians have the authority to fix things, we also gave them the power to rig things. There's no way around that. If your ability to remain employed depends on the generosity of donors, and the generosity of donors depends on how beneficial you are to them, the system you erect will naturally pull towards oligarchy.

more than 2 years ago

Obama To Sign 'America Invents Act of 2011' Today

RareButSeriousSideEf Re:America Invents? (244 comments)

Imagine if we crowdsourced legislation titles. Put an untitled bill out for public review for 90 days, at the end of which the most-voted-up suggestion goes on the masthead. I wonder what well-known bills would be called now if it was done that way...

more than 2 years ago

Ask Slashdot: Am I Too Old To Learn New Programming Languages?

RareButSeriousSideEf Re:Stay Put (772 comments)

Well, the "conservatiod" platform does generally include minimizing the tax burden. Perhaps it would be a fallacy if the subject were, say, Republiciods, some of whom do indeed engage in crony capitalism and corporate subsidization.

more than 2 years ago

California DNA Collection Law Struck Down

RareButSeriousSideEf Re: How does this differ from fingerprints (192 comments)

Took the words out right of my mouth. Given a similar "destruction upon not-guilty" provision (or better yet, no submission to database prior to conviction), the practice seems perfectly reasonable to me.

more than 2 years ago

Lodsys Responds To In-App Purchasing Patent Controversy

RareButSeriousSideEf Re:One question they did not answer (158 comments)

Being in the business of owning patent portfolios and not doing anything with them should be 100% non-viable.

If you added an exception for the original inventor, you might be onto something. There's a well established business model around inventing something worthwhile and monetizing it through licencing deals. However, if you're not business savvy, it can take an inordinately long time to navigate through the myriad decisions needed to get an invention made.

If you could limit damages anyone else could collect for infringement -- by tying them to actual manufacturing under the patent, whether by the patentholder or by a licensee -- it could achieve the objective you're going for, without threatening the business model that fosters a lot of the innovation we see.

more than 3 years ago

Apple Patents Keyboard That Knows What You'll Type

RareButSeriousSideEf Re:What's the point? (132 comments)

Yeah, it's definitely better for private atmospheres. Although in *my* office it's not a problem; I work for a startup with a one-big-room office, and everyone wears headphones all day anyway.

more than 3 years ago

Apple Patents Keyboard That Knows What You'll Type

RareButSeriousSideEf Re:What's the point? (132 comments)

Unless key prediction gets *much* better than what I've seen on my phone, it seems that I'd quickly learn to ignore any hints given by the keyboard since more times than not, it would be wrong.

I shared your opinion until recently, so I was surprised to see how much better prediction has gotten with alternative keyboards on my Android device. SwiftKey is all about prediction, and it learns quite quickly. It has a decent training set right out of the box, but a week later it's night & day.

Swype isn't as sophisticated as SwiftKey with next-word prediction, but the idea of tracing in lieu of keystrokes is great. The first beta was almost unusable, but after trying beta 2, I switched and I'll probably never go back to key-tapping.

I think smarter keyboards will be a short-lived phase though; voice recognition is really coming of age the past few years, and when it works it's far more efficient than even the most accurate predictive keyboard. (Well, unless it predicts your whole next paragraph, I guess...)

more than 3 years ago

Skynet Becomes Aware, Launches Nuclear Attack

RareButSeriousSideEf Re:Deja Vu (274 comments)

Scope creep. They were originally only supposed to have it take over the US. Then marketing said going global right out of the gate was more critical than time-to-market. (Something about opening strong & pre-empting competition, I think.)

more than 3 years ago

Berners-Lee: Web Access Is a 'Human Right'

RareButSeriousSideEf Re:Go Tim (480 comments)

How do "massive corporations" and "the wealthy" even factor into this? Are massive corporations blockading school entrances, or are the wealthy kidnapping teachers en-masse? This is where the concept of Rights has gotten unhinged from reality. Rights prevent the state and others from doing things to you. Rights cannot compel someone to do something thing for you.

If someone has a right to "an education or healthcare or a basic standard of living," then others -- many others -- have an obligation to provide it to him. You can only ensure this obligation is met by being prepared to violate those others' right to self-determination (embodied in, e.g., freedom of association, property, and choice of occupation). Once self-determination is out the window, all other rights are meaningless, subject to the whim of politicians.

more than 3 years ago

Berners-Lee: Web Access Is a 'Human Right'

RareButSeriousSideEf The UN jumped the shark a long time ago (480 comments)

The UN long ago forgot that products and services cannot be "rights" in a society that's free of officially sanctioned theft and compulsory labor. The concept of "rights" has become so silly with these people that a nation can seriously propose such lunacy as this: UN document would give ``Mother Earth`` same rights as humans. They've become little more than a very expense three-ring circus who has no authority whatsoever on the subject.

You can try to universally provision a good or service free of charge, but you will bring it into a state of scarcity in the process.

more than 3 years ago

AT&T Lowers Data Access To Just $500/GB

RareButSeriousSideEf Re:for pete's sake (339 comments)

Government monopoly on wholesale to ensure equal service delivery across all communities.

I would suggest government offering of privately-managed wholesale wiring towers and tunnels... no monopoly, and no government owned/controlled wires (at least not if you want any chance at privacy, open content, and long term economic efficiency). These would run to the community; communities and those that serve them would be at their discretion to close the gap to the neighborhoods and dwellings (perhaps on the condition that they facilitate no barriers to any provider who wishes to lease wiring space in those local segments).

The offering could have three rates per unit of capacity rented: a base rate when you provide service equally across your entire serving area, a discount for bringing service to unserved and under-served areas, and a surcharge for the percentage of the population you do not offer service to within the larger of a) the region bounded by the outermost points of your service area, or b) the entirety of all counties in which you offer any service.

By collectivizing the biggest barrier to entry -- the initial infrastructure buildout -- and not collectivizing the ownership of the lines, you could probably get the best mix of benefits that the two sectors could offer. The goal is to catalyze new competition in as many markets as possible; do that, and the bandwidth and price problems will get solved better than by any strategy involving monopolies or a select few 'licensed' providers (with ever-increasing bureaucratic and regulatory hurdles in front of new would-be entrants).

more than 3 years ago

Obama Administration Wants Your Old Email

RareButSeriousSideEf Re:Hi, I'm Left... (639 comments)

I think you seriously hit on the raw material for a new amendment there. We could keep politicians of all stripes from infringing constitutional rights for political ends with a simple rule, that stripping any of an individual's rights by due process requires that you do so for all forfeitable rights. There, mister congresscritter... you're no longer able to selectively attack rights you wish weren't rights in the first place.

There are probably edge cases where this would be undesirable, but I can't think of one off the top of my head.

more than 3 years ago



US rolls out Internet identity plan

RareButSeriousSideEf RareButSeriousSideEf writes  |  more than 3 years ago

RareButSeriousSideEf writes "FTA: At a US Chamber of Commerce event today, the federal government rolled out its vision for robust online credentials that it hopes will replace the current mess of multiple accounts and insecure passwords. The choice of the Chamber of Commerce wasn't an accident, either; the government wants to squelch any talk of a "national Internet ID card" and emphasize that the plan will be both voluntary and led by the private sector.

[...] Users can choose how many credentials they acquire, what information is contained in each, and how much information is revealed at login.

[...] Public meetings on NSTIC begin in June, and NIST hopes to be funding pilot projects by 2012. Still, ordinary Internet users won't be able to use the system for three to five years."

Link to Original Source

The Fight against Intellectual Property

RareButSeriousSideEf RareButSeriousSideEf writes  |  more than 3 years ago

RareButSeriousSideEf (968810) writes "Does IP run counter to contract law? Might it violate property rights? Jacob H. Huebert (author of Libertarianism Today) examines these questions:

When the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) wins a $1.92 million verdict against a 32-year-old Minnesota woman for sharing 24 songs online, is that good for liberty? When Disney and other big media companies got Congress to extend copyright protection for Mickey Mouse (and everything else) far into the future, should libertarians have cheered? When a patent-holding company threatened to shut down the Blackberry network unless Blackberry's creator paid it hundreds of millions in licensing fees, was this a win for property rights, or was it just extortion?


Link to Original Source

Is Regulation the Path to Ending Net Neutrality?

RareButSeriousSideEf RareButSeriousSideEf writes  |  more than 3 years ago

RareButSeriousSideEf (968810) writes "Judd Weiss reminds us of some stated goals of FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, and illustrates what this could mean if the FCC assumes regulatory control over the internet:

Genachowski: "And this principle will not constrain efforts to ensure a safe, secure, and spam-free Internet experience, or to enforce the law. It is vital that illegal conduct be curtailed on the Internet. As I said in my Senate confirmation hearing, open Internet principles apply only to lawful content, services and applications — not to activities like unlawful distribution of copyrighted works, which has serious economic consequences. The enforcement of copyright and other laws and the obligations of network openness can and must co-exist."

The article continues, "The FCC needs to survive. It starts regulating ISPs to impose Net Neutrality and ensure that they don’t prioritize content. The FCC makes exceptions for spam. Obviously it’s ok for the ISPs to restrict spam. Soon, under pressure from Homeland Security, the FCC begins monitoring and censoring illegitimate online content, such as Wikileaks. They assure us they aren’t here to censor the Internet, as long as the content is legitimate. Then the FCC, under pressure from major media conglomerates, forces ISPs to restrict access to pirated material. The ISPs complain that the burden is just too large for them to monitor and track pirated material. That’s quite alright, because the FCC will help with that too. They can hire a bunch of bureaucrats (at our expense) to simply monitor and censor only pirated material “with a light touch“. Then it comes to be one day soon that it only takes a 3-2 ruling for the FCC to start censoring pornographic and other objectionable content, without needing a public vote. Like with TV and Radio, children need to be protected, and a large portion of the public want this protection. The religious right and politically correct left have found common ground.""
Link to Original Source


Level 3 Denounces Comcast ‘Toll’ On In

RareButSeriousSideEf RareButSeriousSideEf writes  |  more than 3 years ago

RareButSeriousSideEf (968810) writes "An interesting wrinkle today in the debate over net neutrality and broadband content accesss: Level 3 Communications (LVLT), which operates thousands of miles of fiber optic networks throughout North America, said this afternoon it was asked on November 19th by Comcast (CMCSA), the nation’s biggest cable operator, to pay a recurring fee to Comcast every time one of Comcast’s subscribers requests content, such as movies, that are transmitted to Comcast’s network over the Internet via Level 3’s facilities.

Level 3 agreed to the fee in protest [...more at TFA]"

Link to Original Source

Fight aggressive auto-renewal billing practices?

RareButSeriousSideEf RareButSeriousSideEf writes  |  more than 4 years ago

RareButSeriousSideEf (968810) writes "Okay askslashdotters, can anyone advise me on the best strategy for fighting some questionable-to-unconscionable business practices at a hosting company?

The short version: If the credit card used to set up an auto-renewing, pay-in-advance service (like web hosting) is declined at renewal time, shouldn't the service simply be suspended?

The long version: I formerly used the hosting company 1and1 (aka 1&1) for a few dev sites. They have an intentionally difficult and burdensome cancellation process, as a few simple searches for "cancel 1and1" will attest. I tried unsuccessfully to cancel my packages with them a few times, but didn't really follow up agressively. I was annoyed to see the charges continue to appear on my credit card statement; their cancellation interface seemed broken, and their main interface offered no option to remove the credit card used to set up the account. Soon after, due to a stolen wallet, it happened that I had to cancel the credit card used to set up the account. (Others have deliberately cancelled cards just to get 1and1's charges to stop, but this wasn't the case with me.) I thought this would finally work, as their ToS clearly states that payment must be made in advance of the provision of services (see ToS here). I expected that if the card didn't go through, they would lock the account, end of story.

This turned out to be a wrong assumption. The card was declined at renewal time, but despite this, when I ignored their emails, they renewed the plans anyway & sent the fees to a *collection agency*. No kidding.

Subsequent correspondence has found them totally unwilling to resolve this amicably. The money is negligible to me, but they've angered me enough here that I want to go to the mat. I think I've successfully managed to cancel these plans now, but my specific questions on the matter are:

1) My position is that 1and1 had no authorization to renew these plans without pre-payment. Is this defensible? I know other hosts simply lock accounts, and that is what I expected them to do. I never requested credit from them.
2) Some of the charges were for hosting plans. Others were for domains. Do ICANN rules in any way forbid this kind of practice with regard to domain renewals?
3) Their ToS contains a class-action waiver; is this likely to be enforceable or not in such a case? (If not, I would love to help initiate.)
4) So far I've avoided all contact with the collection agency. Is there a good strategy for fighting collections for unauthorized services when the billing party refuses to acknowledge that they were unauthorized?"

RareButSeriousSideEf RareButSeriousSideEf writes  |  more than 7 years ago

RareButSeriousSideEf writes "Fujitsu's H.264 chip encodes/decodes in Full HD chip-encodes-decodes-in-full-hd-a-worlds-fir/

Might this chip finally power a workaround for PC-based PVR users being unable to access most cable HDTV programming? Could it assist in fixing problems like "Windows Media Center Restricts Cable TV"? ( 138255)

From the article:
"Fujitsu just announced a world's first H.264 chip capable of encoding/decoding 1920 x 1080 (60i/50i) video in real time. The chip features 256MB of onboard FCRAM and ultra low 750mW power draw when encoding video. That means lickity quick, MPEG-2 quality processing with only a third, or half the required storage. The ¥30,000 ($247) MB86H51 chip is available to OEMs starting July 1st after which you'll find it bunged into the latest up-scale, consumer-class video recorders."

(I imagine someone could easily command $1500/unit or better by being the first to run YPbPr component inputs into one of these, put the whole thing on a PCI-Express 1x board, and write working Linux and Windows drivers. I'd shell that much out myself. Anyone else?)"

RareButSeriousSideEf RareButSeriousSideEf writes  |  more than 7 years ago

RareButSeriousSideEf writes "Gartner: Vista Will Be the Last Windows

By Reuters via,1895,2073011, p

"LOS ANGELES (Reuters) — Research firm Gartner Inc. turned soothsayer on Wednesday by predicting that Windows Vista will be the last big release of Microsoft Corp.'s Windows operating system.

The era of monolithic deployments of software releases is nearing an end and Microsoft will participate in the trend toward more flexible updates, Gartner forecast in a list of forecasts about 2007."

If Gartner is right (and that's a big if), could this give a whole new meaning to Patch Tuesday?"



EFF and Libraries Support Google Against Adult Website

RareButSeriousSideEf RareButSeriousSideEf writes  |  about 8 years ago

From the "Politics Makes Interesting Bedfellows" department, EFF and the Library Copyright Association joined forces to file an amicus brief supporting Google Image Search in its court battle with adult website Perfect 10. EFF believes that the freedom to hyperlink is potentially threatened in this case. The case also involves IP issues surrounding the indexing thumbnails of copyrighted images, and its outcome has the potential to expand responsibility for IP infringmenent to third parties.

From TFA: "Adult entertainment publisher Perfect 10 claims that Google's Image Search service violates copyright law by indexing Perfect 10 photos posted on unauthorized websites, then making and delivering thumbnail images of those photos in its search results. Perfect 10 also contends that Google should be held liable for any copyright infringement that occurs on sites that Google links to."

More on the case:


Linux's success tied to implementing DRM?

RareButSeriousSideEf RareButSeriousSideEf writes  |  more than 8 years ago

At LinuxWorld Boston, RealNetworks executive Jeff Ayars claimed that "the consequences of Linux not supporting DRM would be that fixed-purpose consumer electronics and Windows PCs would be the sole entertainment platforms available. Linux would be further relegated to use in servers and business computers, since it would not be providing the multimedia technologies demanded by consumers." FSF Europe president Georg Greve disagreed, pointing out that "The Sony rootkit case made it quite clear why DRM is not accepted by consumers and why there is no successful business case for DRM."

RealNetworks' lack of relevance was not dicussed.,2000061733,39251007,00.htm


RareButSeriousSideEf RareButSeriousSideEf writes  |  more than 8 years ago Wall Street Journal, October 20, 2005
Media Companies Go Too Far in Curbing Consumers' Activities
Walter Mossberg, Personal Technology Columnist

In some quarters of the Internet, the three most hated letters of the alphabet are DRM. They stand for Digital Rights Management, a set of technologies for limiting how people can use the music and video files they've purchased from legal downloading services. DRM is even being used to limit what you can do with the music you buy on physical CDs, or the TV shows you record with a TiVo or other digital video recorder.

Once mainly known inside the media industries and among activists who follow copyright issues, DRM is gradually becoming familiar to average consumers, who are increasingly bumping up against its limitations.

DRM is computer code that can be embedded in music and video files to dictate how these files are used. The best-known example is the music Apple Computer sells at its iTunes Music Store. Using a DRM system it invented called FairPlay, Apple has rigged its songs, at the insistence of the record companies, so that they can be played only on a maximum of five computers, and so that you can burn only seven CDs containing the same playlist of purchased tracks. If Apple hadn't done this, the record labels wouldn't have allowed it to sell their music.

DRM systems are empty vessels -- they can enforce any rules copyright holders choose, or no rules at all. Apple's DRM rules are liberal enough that few consumers object to them. In fact, obtaining relatively liberal DRM rules from the labels was the key to Apple's success in selling music. But some other uses of DRM technology aren't so benign.

Some CD buyers are discovering to their dismay that new releases from certain record companies contain DRM code that makes it difficult to copy the songs to their computers, where millions prefer to keep their music. People who buy online music in Microsoft's Windows Media format too often run into the DRM error message "unable to obtain license" when trying to transfer the songs to a music player.

Some TiVo owners have reported seeing messages on their TV screens, apparently triggered by error, that warn that if the copyright holder so chooses, TiVo recordings can be made to expire automatically after a certain period.

For some activists, the very idea of Digital Rights Management is anathema. They believe that once a consumer legally buys a song or a video clip, the companies that sold them have no right to limit how the consumer uses them, any more than a car company should be able to limit what you can do with a car you've bought.

But DRM is seen as a lifesaver by the music, television and movie industries. The companies believe they need DRM technology to block the possibility that a song or video can be copied in large quantities and distributed over the Internet, thus robbing them of legitimate sales.

In my view, both sides have a point, but the real issue isn't DRM itself -- it's the manner in which DRM is used by copyright holders. Companies have a right to protect their property, and DRM is one means to do so. But treating all consumers as potential criminals by using DRM to overly limit their activities is just plain wrong.

Let's be clear: The theft of intellectual property on the Internet is a real problem. Millions of copies of songs, TV shows and movies are being distributed over the Internet by people who have no legal right to do so, robbing media companies and artists of rightful compensation for their work.

Even if you think the record labels and movie studios are stupid and greedy, as many do, that doesn't entitle you to steal their products. If your local supermarket were run by people you didn't like, and charged more than you thought was fair, you wouldn't be entitled to shoplift Cheerios from its shelves.

On the other hand, I believe that consumers should have broad leeway to use legally purchased music and video for personal, noncommercial purposes in any way they want -- as long as they don't engage in mass distribution. They should be able to copy it to as many personal digital devices as they own, convert it to any format those devices require, and play it in whatever locations, at whatever times, they choose.

The beauty of digital media is the flexibility, and that flexibility shouldn't be destroyed for honest consumers just because the companies that sell them have a theft problem caused by a minority of people.

Instead of using DRM to stop some individual from copying a song to give to her brother, the industry should be focusing on ways to use DRM to stop the serious pirates -- people who upload massive quantities of music and videos to so-called file-sharing sites, or factories in China that churn out millions of pirate CDs and DVDs.

I believe Congress should rewrite the copyright laws to carve out a broad exemption for personal, noncommercial use by consumers, including sharing small numbers of copies among families.

Until then, I suggest that consumers avoid stealing music and videos, but also boycott products like copy-protected CDs that overly limit usage and treat everyone like a criminal. That would send the industry a message to use DRM more judiciously.

Email me at mossberg [at]

Copyright © 2005 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved


Democrats introduce new Net neutrality bill

RareButSeriousSideEf RareButSeriousSideEf writes  |  more than 8 years ago

What a novel legislative approach... Study First and Mandate Later. Have they lost their minds?

"The bill, sponsored by Reps. Ed Markey of Massachusetts, Jay Inslee of Washington state, Anna Eshoo of California and Rick Boucher of Virginia, would create an Internet neutrality law banning phone and cable companies from charging Web sites for faster data transmission or blocking their online competitors' content and services. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, has introduced a similar bill in the Senate."


"Randolph May, a senior fellow and director of communications policy at conservative think tank the Progress and Freedom Foundation, praised the Stevens bill for not mandating Net neutrality rules. "Especially in light of the fact that presently there are no identified consumer harms that need remedying, this 'study first, mandate later' approach is much to be commended," May wrote in his blog.",10801,111090,00.html?SKC=networking-111090

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