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Senators Propose Bill Prohibiting Phone Calls On Planes

aegl Charge $10/minute (513 comments)

Airline keeps half. The rest is distributed to the people sitting next to the person making the call.

about a year ago

Ask Slashdot: Explaining Cloud Privacy Risks To K-12 Teachers?

aegl Just how would you explain the risks? (168 comments)

We already have groups of people afraid of wifi, vaccines, and a host of other things that are non-issues. They are also disproportionately afraid that their child will be abducted (by strangers, or even by aliens).

Pretty much whatever you say will either be misunderstood by some subgroup, or deliberately misconstrued by another - and then a school faces the problem of providing a special exception* for some group of students that have been opted out.

* Note that I'm generally in favour of special exceptions in schools because children do have different learning styles and paces - but this would be a crazy addition

about a year ago

Supreme Court Overturns Defense of Marriage Act

aegl Scalia's dissent wasn't about keeping DOMA (1073 comments)

Scalia was outraged that SCOTUS hadn't dismissed Windsor for the pretty much the same reasons that they dismissed Perry. There was no case. The district court said that DOMA(3) was not constitutional. The government agreed. Should have been end of story with DOMA(3) in the trashcan (in that district ... but with more to follow from other cases like Golinski, Pederson, Gil, and a dozen others). The supreme court exists to resolve disputes - and there was no dispute here. Both parties to the case were in full agreement.

The only fly in the ointment was Speaker John Boehner sending in the BLAG (bi-partisan legal advisory group - which is anything *but* bi-partisan since the authorization came from a 3-2 committee vote of Republicans vs. Democrats) to make the appeals to the circuit court and then to SCOTUS.

So Scalia's preferred outcome would probably have been to deny Cert in the first place, or to ditch the case on standing grounds - either of which would have still resulted in DOMA(3) being struck down.

The latter part of his dissent makes it clear that he isn't a big fan of same sex marriage

about a year and a half ago

Intel Streaming Media Service Faces An Uphill Battle for Bandwidth

aegl Are ISPs really throttling bandwidth? (82 comments)

Lots of talk about how ISPs could do this to protect their own video offerings. But are they really doing it? My current ISP is Comcast, previous was AT&T U-verse. In both cases I did not subscribe to their TV option - just to internet and voice.

I have had no problems streaming video from Netflix, Amazon or Hulu+ through my Roku box. Base bandwidth to maintain a video stream is only 5 Mbits or so, so it would seem to be increasingly difficult for ISPs competing for customers in the Mb/s battles to throttle things so much as to prevent streaming video.

about a year and a half ago

Of the Love of Oldtimers - Dusting Off a Sun Fire V1280 Server

aegl Run Firefox (281 comments)

Don't open too many tabs with just 24 GiB

about 2 years ago

Election Tech: In Canada, They Actually Count the Votes

aegl Right is better than fast (500 comments)

Why is there an obsession with getting the the results of an election within hours/minutes of the polls closing?

In the USA elections are in early November, POTUS isn't sworn in until mid January. Take a week or two to count the votes.

more than 2 years ago

Judge: Cops Can Impersonate Owner Of Seized Cell Phones

aegl sending texts sounds like a problem (213 comments)

I can see that once the police had the phone, that looking at the address book is equivalent to looking at an old style rolodex. Looking at received texts is like the precedent cited of looking at received messages on an old style pager. But *sending* texts seems like something new. Are there precedents where a police officer who is a skilled voice mimic answers a seized phone, or starts making calls from a seized phone and impersonates the true owner of the phone?

more than 2 years ago

San Jose Plan Reintroduces Large-Scale Municipal Wi-Fi Coverage

aegl What about the smart meter crazy people? (61 comments)

We seem to have a highly vocal minority that believe the "radiation" from smart meters is destroying their lives. They've managed to convince PG&E to offer an opt-out plan to let them keep a non-transmitting meter. Surely a few of them live in the 1.5 square miles covered by this. Waiting for lawsuit to stop this in 3 ... 2 ... 1

more than 2 years ago

Sony Outlets Control Electricity Through Authentication

aegl Too late to be useful? (284 comments)

I remember the days when my laptop would only run for a couple of hours on battery and then die. Back then seats next to electrical outlets at airports and coffee shops were in high demand as the road warriors clustered around them.

But now I have an "eight hour" battery (which I am sure will run for 5+ hours, perhaps more). So I don't care any more. A few days ago I was in a meeting with the projector connected to my laptop running on battery. A colleague helpfully passed me a power cord - and I literally stared at it for five seconds thinking "Why? I don't need this, the meeting will only run for another hour at most and I'm 100% confident that my battery will last."

So there might have been a market for this up until 2010/2011 or so, but that market is disappearing fast. If your business model is to charge people $5 for $0.005 worth of electricity at airports ... you may need to rethink how much demand there will be.

more than 2 years ago

What If the Apollo Program Never Happened?

aegl Transparent attempt to get two extra senate seats (756 comments)

When Newt has established his moon base and is picking the 13,000 people he says he needs to petition to become a state, what do you think will be the first question on the application form?

more than 2 years ago

Romney Invokes Fair Use In Dispute With NBC Over Campaign Ad

aegl He may be right, it might be fair use ... (242 comments)

But unfortunately the legislature and the courts have not given us any clear description on what is and is not fair use. The only way to find out is to take a case to the courts and have a judge evaluate the evidence and issue a ruling.

So Romley needs to do exactly that ... have his ad pulled by a DMCA takedown. Appeal that. Have NBC sue (and get an injuction to stop him using this video until the case is resolved). Go to court. All this could easily be resolved by mid-2013 (unless the loser appeals to pregressively higher levels of the court system).

Wait - you say you need this ad now, while the primaries are going on? Sorry - that's not how it works.

Mitt: Time for a campaign promise to fix these damn laws so that they provide clear guidelines for fair use - I'd certainly take notice if you did that (you'd have to drop a bunch of other stuff before I could be persuaded to vote for you).

more than 2 years ago

Kernel.org Attackers Didn't Know What They Had

aegl Re:Kernel.org may not bother with clean wipe (183 comments)

Perhaps considered - but rejected. www.kernel.org now says:

"We have currently taken boxes off line to do a backup and are in the process of doing complete reinstalls."

more than 3 years ago

Google Launches Identity Verification Badge Scheme

aegl How can this possibly scale? (241 comments)

Presumably Google developed "plus" to avoid losing the whole world to Facebook. But how can any verification process scale to hundreds of millions of users?

more than 3 years ago

Space Shuttle Atlantis Launches On Final Flight

aegl Re:Commercial spaceflight ... (275 comments)

"Corporations overcharge"

Shuttle flights worked out at about $1.6 billion each - if these overcharging corporations charge $1B to get the same mass into orbit, then we are $600M ahead.

more than 3 years ago

Is Your Electricity Meter Spying On You?

aegl Insufficient resolution (405 comments)

My smart gas meter produces one data point per day in units of whole therms. Usage for the last few days looks like this:

1, 2, 3, 1, 1, 2, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 2, 3

Good luck doing the data analysis on that to tell what time I take a shower.

If I had a smart meter for electricity (I don't, PG&E won't give me one because I have solar panels on my roof) there might be more of a problem as I understand that these provide per-hour data - not sure of the resolution. I'm certain that you'd be able to tell when I run the clothes drier - but smaller appliances are going to be difficult to spot in hourly data.

more than 3 years ago

See The Supermoon Tonight

aegl In this part of North America (102 comments)

I'll actually be seeing clouds ... forecast says no supermoon for us, just rain and more rain.

more than 3 years ago

Hard Disk Sector Consolidates Amid Uncertain Future

aegl Rescue data from SSD (237 comments)

'SSDs are going to fail just like hard drives will'

Yes they will fail, but the failure modes will be different. No heads to crash into the spinning surface damaging the oxide layer and spreading bits of junk across the rest of the surface of the drive.

People will still fail to take adequate backups - so there will still be a market for data recovery from failed SSDs - I wonder what it will look like. Pulling the raw flash chips out of a failed SSD will most likely allow an enormous number of bits to be recovered. But unless the drive manufacturers cooperate with the data recovery companies to provide low level details of the wear leveling algorithms, then it will be astonishingly hard to turn those raw bits back into files.

Are any data recovery companies advertising recovery services for SSD yet?

more than 3 years ago

British ISPs Embracing Two-Tier Internet

aegl U.K. consumer protection laws ... (305 comments)

I'd think that any company that advertised "internet access" and then blocked access to BBC iPlayer in favour of Youtube (or vice versa) would run into a wall of lawsuits from dissatisfied customers - who would win as U.K law takes a dim view of companies posting false or misleading advertisements.

about 4 years ago

Cheaters Exposed Analyzing Statistical Anomalies

aegl Technical solution (437 comments)

Say you want to give a 50 question multiple choice test. First make up two or three questions of similar difficulty for each "slot" on the exam. Now use a pseudo-random number generator to generate a "unique" test for each student by picking just one of the candidate questions for each slot, also use the random number generator to shuffle the answers so the correct one differs from one paper to the next. Include the seed for the random number generator on the test paper and have the student enter it onto the scantron answer sheet. Then you just need a smart scanner to check the answers based on which set of questions the student was given.

Cheating is still possible, but much harder because students can no longer send simple "Q23:B" messages, instead they need to send the complete question and answer (which may be a waste of time as that question may not even be on the recipient's copy of the exam).

more than 3 years ago


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