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NSA Surveillance May Have Dealt Major Blow To Global Internet Freedom Efforts

aedil Re:They need to open up to the American people (327 comments)

What gives the impression that voters have anything to do with how the NSA operates? Sure, in theory one could try to vote someone into a position of authority who could influence their operation, but how realistic is that? The people that head up the NSA are 'technically' appointed and confirmed by elected officials, but an administration is not going to appoint someone who isn't on their side, so congress has limited options. In the end, it becomes a choice between (ultimately) identical candidates. Administrations may boast they will clean things up when elected but once they win and realize what they have, does anyone really think they are going to throw it away?

Many campaign promises get broken... those that have to do with reducing one's own power almost always get broken.

In the end, intelligence agencies and law enforcement are usually very focused on finding ways around any limitations to how they believe they can be most effective. That does include finding ways to circumvent legal barriers.

Sadly, it seems to be largely human nature... how many people can resist snooping at a diary when found, or a colleague's pay check found in a drawer while looking for a pencil, etc... This is simply on a much larger scale. Yes, it is very wrong, but if you think someone, when voted into the coveted position of being able to know most secrets, is going to give up the advantages it offers.... think again.

about a year ago
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CIA To Hand Over Drone Program To Pentagon?

aedil Location of drone command centre (142 comments)

And now it is also known where the drones will be controlled from, although I am not convinced that there is only a single command centre. That would be rather stupid... Anyway, so, one of the control centres will be located in Horsham, PA near Philadelphia on part of the grounds of the format naval air base, according to the following article: http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20130320_Horsham_command_center_for_drones_stirs_controversy.html

about a year ago
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LEGO Announces GNU/LInux-Powered Mindstorms EV3 Platform

aedil Re:Wait... what? (164 comments)

It would actually make quite a lot of sense for a custom system where the control software (essentially the OS) is provided in the srtorage component (16MB), and things like actual programs are loaded into RAM. Since typically (as far as I recall) mindstorm programs are loaded into the brick at runtime, it makes perfect sense that no storage is used for this, other than perhaps a ramdisk.

about a year and a half ago
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Adobe EULA Demands 7000 Years a Day From Humankind

aedil Re:Is such a contract enforceable? (224 comments)

There is also the notion that an EULA bears only explicit agreement from one party, which generally isn't enough to call it a true contract in writing. A unilaterally binding agreement is not really a contract in the strictest sense. When combined with the actual act of purchasing, one could try to argue that the entire transaction (that concludes with the agreement to the EULA) constitutes some form of contract, but I doubt that in a legal sense that would be held up as a broad interpretation of the contract concept.

I know of at least one situation where a contractor had a customer sign his agreement that stated that the customer would pay a certain amount for work listed on the agreement. There was a dispute over the work, the agreement was brought into evidence, and rendered invalid as a contract because (1) the customer never got a copy of the agreement he signed, and (2) the agreement did not contain a signature of the contractor or representative.

about a year and a half ago
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Amazon Payment Adds "No Class Action" Language To Terms of Service

aedil The fix is obvious, yet near impossible... (147 comments)

> "The question becomes, what do we do to fix this so that consumers are truly protected?

Well, the obvious solution is to fix the US court system, where almost any case can be brought against a company or an individual, often even with barely any basis in law. It is much too lucrative to sue, and thus that right gets abused left and right.

So, tighten up the court system so that it becomes more about upholding established law rather than entertaining suits from attorneys who just happen to have found some interpretation of some law (or anything close enough) that they could argue to have a case against someone.

Is this realistic? Of course not. Ever since the notion of 'common sense' has been abolished in favour of law, anything even remotely sensible has become impossible. The courts now get to deal with lawsuits about stuff that should be common sense, and at the same time attorneys refuse quite obvious cases because they feel it cannot be won because despite 'common sense' there isn't enough hard evidence to show that someone was truly at fault. It's pretty much impossible to change (1) the court system, (2) the legislation, and (3) people's desire to seek monetary gain at the expense of others...

about a year and a half ago
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Web Guru To the Blind

aedil Some usefulness, but far from ideal (43 comments)

The main problem with the aDesigner approach is that it is based on assumptions about how a blind individual accesses a webpage with a specific screen reader. Reality is that there are multiple screen readers that are commonly used by the blind, and they have differences in how they present a webpage. As such, a simulation of how a webpage is rendered through a screen reader would need to be configurable based on the behaviour of the various screen readers, and often even different versions of a specific screen reader. On top of that, you also have to account for the individual reading behaviour of the user, because not all users utilize the screen reader the same way when reading web pages.

Back in 2005, at the HCI International conference in Las Vegas, Ms. Asakawa confirmed that her team had not tested the accuracy of the aDesigner against input from a sufficient diverse group of blind users. Instead, it was reported to be based on an assumed standard screen reader and reading protocol.

That is not to say that ms. Asakawa has not done very impressive work. It is simply more limited in nature, and by promoting it to e.g. web developers as yet another tool that will tell them how a blind person will see the page, a possible disservice is done, because developers (especially in companies) are very good at deciding that their pages are accessible 'because they look right in aDesigner'.

more than 2 years ago
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Man Challenges 250,000 Strong Botnet and Succeeds

aedil Re:PR "Stuff" from Fireeye (206 comments)

I think you miss another important aspect of this "war"... As in fighting a guerilla army, you usually end up being on the less effective side of the conflict due to rules and regulations that one tends to be bound by, whereas a guerilla army usually couldn't care less about the rules. Spammers do not care about breaking rules, regulations, and protocols, so they can play very dirty whenever they want (and botnets are a clear example of that). Offensive action against them is usually still bound by some rules, and thus they have a natural advantage. Spammers do not care about any collateral damage... System administrators and othe people fighting the spammers usually do have to care about collateral damage.

more than 4 years ago
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Intel's New E-Reader For the Visually Impaired

aedil Re:Overkill (111 comments)

Your claim that bookshare is 'at no charge' isn't entirely accurate. Bookshare does charge a fee to its members, except for some specific user classes such as k12 students who have a reading disability.

more than 4 years ago
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Intel's New E-Reader For the Visually Impaired

aedil Re:Lawsuit over "performance royalties"? (111 comments)

The problem with the kindle was largely that the text-to-speech functionality was a mainstream feature they were advertising (albeit in somewhat beta-fashion). In terms of accessibility to enable blind and visually impaired users to read the (otherwise) print materials on the kindle, no copyright violation etc would take place because that is covered under specific exceptions. Of course, the overall inaccessibility of the kindle makes that argument a bit hard to make.

But with the Intel Reader being marketed as a specific assistive technology device, it's functionality as described would not be in violation with any copyright laws or DMCA because it is an assistive technology device that enables printed materials to be read by blind and visually impaired users.

more than 4 years ago
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Intel's New E-Reader For the Visually Impaired

aedil Re:ASCAP will put a stop to this (111 comments)

Copyright exceptions exist for the purpose of ensuring that people with disabilities can access print materials, etc... Printed works can be presented in alternative specialized formats (and voice rendering is one of those formats) without constituting a copyright violation. Check out bookshare.org... It's largely based on that.

more than 4 years ago
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Google Patents Its Home Page

aedil Re:Design patent != Normal Patent... (390 comments)

I also expect that it is a step towards having better protection against e.g. any form of phishing sites that would try to appear to be a Google site.

more than 4 years ago
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Stardock Declares Victory Over Demigod Piracy

aedil Re:You have to be kidding. (403 comments)

There is also an often overlooked consideration that affects the influence of piracy on sales. Quite often, if people pirate software it is because they don't care to pay for it (and it is of course illegal and wrong). But those same people are also likely to go for used copies of software as an alternative to pirated copies. In either case, the software vendor isn't making a sale from this person.

For online games, that is even less an issue because there the revenue stream is of course the subscriptions.

As a not-so-in-fashion player of only select games, I happily await the availability of used copies (yes, cheap and sometimes even free) rather than bothering with pirated copies. Sure, I won't be able to play a game within the first few days of it being available, but I do not even play many games, so I can happily wait to get my hands on a really cheap copy.

In all, looking at the amount of used copies of games that pass through e.g. EBay, I think it is quite clear that the amount of people playing a given game is vastly larger than the amount of copies that got ever sold.

more than 5 years ago
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Which Distro For an Eee PC?

aedil Debian (Lenny) does really well (466 comments)

You may want to check out Debian, especially now Lenny has been released as Debian 5.0. It includes a decent amount of work from the DebianEeePC team (http://wiki.debian.org/DebianEeePC), and runs nicely. Like all distributions, there are a few rough edges for some Eee PC models (due to hardware differences and less-than-ideal drivers being available).

In the end, it will probably depend largely on what people are used to in terms of Linux distributions. But if you like Debian and Debian-derivatives, I would certainly recommend taking a look at Debian.

It is also important to note that the DebianEeePC project has a very active developer and user community that is more than happy to help out both newbies and more experienced users.

more than 5 years ago
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Author's Guild Says Kindle's Text-To-Speech Software Illegal

aedil Re:Accessibility, anyone? (683 comments)

Actually, if I am not mistaken, accessibility is covered as an exception under copyright law in that accessible versions of e.g. books in specialized format (which audio is one form of) are allowed. That's what NLS (part of the Library of Congress) and bookshare.org are based on.

The text-to-speech feature of Kindle2 is important to people with visual impairments, since it is a good step in the direction of making the device accessible to that user group.

more than 5 years ago
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Umbilical Cord Blood Banking?

aedil Re:Think of it as health insurance (409 comments)

Of course, the example you refer to has more to do with a broken healthcare/insurance system than with the post.

Either way, the issue with umbilical cord blood banking is more like paying social security taxes, without having any guarantees that by the time you need to be able to count on the payout there actually will be any. While there is a lot of research pointing at stem cell research being the answer to many problems, there is no guanratee that (1) by the time you need it the research will have resulted in a usable solution to whatever problem you face, and (2) by the time you need it the banked cord blood will in fact be usable for whatever solution has been found to be possible with stem cells.

Especially (2) is a bit of a concern to me personally, because you invest a whole lot of money into the banking while there really is no guarantee that the entire process is indeed capable of storing the needed cord blood for the length of time that might be needed without any ill effects. Nor is stem cell research far enough as far as I can see that they can really answer whether cord blood banked for say 20, 30, heck, 80 years will indeed yield stem cells that can successfully be used in treatments.

more than 5 years ago
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Visitors To US Now Required To Register Online

aedil Re:America, for one, welcomes... (734 comments)

It is utter irony of course that the US is so much for boasting freedom etc, but they are implementing measures that are supposedly done in the interest of security without really adding much of anything (beyond annoyance and essentially making the entire visa waiver program useless). It does however seem to indicate just what the US government thinks about the rest of the world: no one can be trusted.

Of course, since apparently green card holders now will be subjected to the ridiculous US VISIT requirements as well, that distruct shouldn't surprise anyone.

Sad thing is... I'd be willing to bet money that Obama won't change any of this during his presidency, which (to me) would be a clear indication that this isn't just the action of an adminstration under a crazy shrub, but rather a consistent move towards protectionism and isolation.

Sad sad sad...

more than 5 years ago
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Mainframe OpenSolaris Now Available

aedil Re:You Recompile Anyway (135 comments)

The question is of course who will be providing "vendor" support for things like the programming tools (compiler, linker, debugger, ...) given that it looks like the code changes that were needed to accomplish OpenSolaris on zSeries have not been integrated into the upstream repositories of those packages? Forked programming tools are a big concern, unless someone can truly commit to ensuring that the fork can be kept up to date with ongoing upstream development, or if the changes actually do get integrated in the upstream anyway.

more than 5 years ago

Submissions

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Apple offering replacement program for iPod nano 1

aedil aedil writes  |  more than 2 years ago

aedil (68993) writes "Much like it did earlier in Japan, Apple, Inc. is now offering a replacement program for select iPod nano 1st gen units due to the battery manufacturing problem that poses a potential hazard if the battery overheats. This problem is apparently more likely to occur as the battery ages.

Of course, they do want the original unit to be sent in first, with a replacement to be shipped within 6 weeks, and there is no mention whether the replacement is a refurbished 1st gen nano, or some other gen nano."

Link to Original Source
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aedil aedil writes  |  more than 7 years ago

aedil (68993) writes "JK Rowling has announced the release date for Harry Potter and the Deadly Hallows: July 21st, 2007 on her official website. Barnes and Noble and Amazon.com have (of course) immediately opened up for pre-orders, although (amazingly enough) only Barnes and Noble is currently offering a guaranteed delivery on the release date. But Amazon.com is sure to follow, I'd expect, even though they may have lost momentum on this one."

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