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How Governments Are Getting Around the UN's Ban On Blinding Laser Weapons

pla Re:Not much different than the fire starting laser (152 comments)

How is blinding someone with a laser worse than killing or maiming them with a bullet?

This world holds a lot of horrors worse than death for our tribe of domesticated monkeys. Personally, I would rather die than go blind... But of course, given that we as a society regularly allow the infirm to live past birth, holding such a belief has become gauche to an extreme. Handbasket, please.

That said, this has nothing to do with issues of morality and mercy, and everything to do with military logistics. A dead enemy merely means one less fighter for the other side. A crippled one still means one less fighter, but also means risking still-tactically-useful men getting him out of combat, then wasting precious medical resources providing immediate treatment, and then (in most civilized countries) supporting him for the rest of his life.

13 hours ago

High School Student Builds Gun That Unlocks With Your Fingerprint

pla The other question that needs to be asked (561 comments)

Was that 99.99% test done on a fire arm that has been used much?

If you check out the pics in TFA, you'll see that not only didn't they test fire this the hundreds of thousands of times it would take to come up with that claim of accuracy - This "proof of concept" wouldn't ever work in a real gun.

Apparently, this genius 17YO knows so little about the functioning of an actual gun that he simply filled the receiver with electronics (because nothing important goes in all that empty space) and produced what amounts a gun-shaped fingerprint reader. Because, y'know, who needs all those silly little things like springs or hammers or firing pins or magazines to also fit inside a working gun?

2 days ago

High School Student Builds Gun That Unlocks With Your Fingerprint

pla Re:Reliability is key. (561 comments)

Guns must not be simply reliable. They must be infallible. They must work instantly, every time. Otherwise, any gun is useless. See how fucking idiotic that sounds?

It doesn't sound idiotic at all. Yes, the real world means that you will have some measurable failures-to-fire. Also IN THE REAL WORLD, quality ammo in a well-maintained gun simply doesn't fail. You'll see less than one FTF in a thousand, and that one will only happen after a long day at the range with the gun completely fouled. And even then, a tap-rack-bang will usually clear it (as opposed to a dead battery, which would mean a dead you when you have two seconds before a home invader gets from the door to you).

So yes, guns MUST be as close to infallible as possible. We have to accept the constraints of the real world, but adding a functionally unnecessary point of failure amounts to nothing short of suicidal.

2 days ago

High School Student Builds Gun That Unlocks With Your Fingerprint

pla Re: Great one more fail (561 comments)

What I will say is I don't understand why folks are against the development of these sorts of things. As long as it's not government mandated as the only way to get a usable tool then let it compete in the market.

Why? Because at least one state HAS already mandated it - New Jersey passed that one in 2002, and only the lack of any viable commercial tech has blocked the enforcement of such mandates. And worse, Eric Holder (yes, that Eric Holder) publicly stated that he considers NJ's law a model for future NATIONAL policy.

I don't think even the most paranoid gun-nuts have a serious moral objection to safer guns. Until such tech exists as to allow "smart" guns to have four properties, however, I will cling to my dumb ol' guns to my last breath:
1) No batteries.
2) Lower false NEGATIVE rate ("99.99%" from TFA makes a great soundbite but means fuck-all without qualifiers) than a dumb gun's normal failure-to-fire rate (which with quality ammo and a well-maintained gun comes to pretty damned near zero).
3) No slower than existing draw-rack-point-click. I would even say, if fingerprint-based, the sensor MUST go on the trigger itself and detect a thin stripe of index fingertop.
4) No remote disabling, PERIOD. If the police can do it, so can home invaders.

/ OT: Why the hell doesn't bolding work on Beta? And Dice really wonders why we hate it?

2 days ago

German Court: Google Must Stop Ignoring Customer E-mails

pla Re:define "customer" (287 comments)

A customer is someone who receives a service from a company, even if the (monetary) price for that service is zero.

No. Don't mistake "users" for "customers". They do not mean the same thing, and you conflate the two at great risk to your productivity, your profitability, and your sanity.

The fact that random people can read my blog in no way makes them "customers". The fact that Google makes money on their websites while I make nothing and use mine as a soapbox has no relevance - I ignore email from German users too (mostly because I can't read them). Come and get me, polizei!

3 days ago

U.S. Threatened Massive Fine To Force Yahoo To Release Data

pla Re:Too Bad They Didn't Pull a Lavabit (223 comments)

It would've gone on long enough for something to happen.

For what to happen, exactly?

"We the People" count as fucking sheep, more concerned with Kardashians than the Constitution. What exactly do you think more awareness of the problem would have gotten us?

The general public now knows about the NSA's spying programs, just like they learned about Bush (senior)'s CIA running the global drug trade to arm the Taliban 30 years ago, just like they learned about J. Edgar's FBI's CoIntelPro 30 years before that, just like they put Joe Kennedy in charge of the SEC 30 years before that. And yet... Do you see Keith Alexander's head on a pike in a conspicuous public place? Do you see the entire agency disbanded for breach of public trust, and everyone who ever worked there rendered unemployable due to the taint on their resumes?

No. No, you don't. Because we deserve the government we have. We exist as a nation run by bread and circuses, and we like it.

/ Dear $Deity - You can send that asteroid any time now... Perhaps the intelligent dragonfly empire 100 million years from now will do better than the domesticated apes did.

4 days ago

U.S. Threatened Massive Fine To Force Yahoo To Release Data

pla Re:Classic conflict of interest (223 comments)

The judges in these kind of cases are appointed by the executive, the same branch of government they are supposed to keep in check.

Remember, kids - Nothing says "legitimate democratic government" like extortionate secret courts!

Un-fucking believable. Well, no, entirely too believable. On the bright side, federal judges get appointed for life, so we have a very straightforward recall procedure.

/ 28 USC section 375, of course - What did you think I meant?

4 days ago

X-Class Solar Flare Coming Friday

pla Re:Made in America (145 comments)

I figure the best strategy is to have a gun and a well-prepared neighbor. However, I'm too lazy even for that level of preparation.

Bad idea - Any "well prepared" neighbor probably has more guns, and more familiarity with using them, than you do. And while it only takes one lucky shot to take him out by surprise, you can pretty much bet your life (literally) that the Missus and little Timmy also know the right end of the barrel from the wrong.

(Not trying to sound like a "tough guy" here - I don't count as any sort of crackpot survivalist, just a rural geek; but I do know a few, and would do my best to avoid them in a doomsday scenario - Made of meat, dontchaknow?)

4 days ago

Accused Ottawa Cyberbully Facing 181 Charges Apologizes

pla Re:Right. (140 comments)

You'd never do it to strike a deal with the prosecutor to get a lesser sentence because the evidence they have on you is incontrovertible?

Entering a guilty plea differs from offering an unsolicited apology. Sure, I might pragmatically enter a guilty plea, but the idea of any sort of sincere apology after engaging in a decade long campaign of harassment? It just doesn't even make sense.

I don't know if Canada has a version of the "insanity" defense, and I know that very rarely works in the US, but I'd have to say that no sane person would waste that much time systematically trashing their former coworkers over a stupid job. That dude snapped - I'd call his coworkers lucky he didn't literally hunt them down one by one and torture them to death in his basement.

4 days ago

X-Class Solar Flare Coming Friday

pla Re:Made in America (145 comments)

So.... how are you fixed for firewood and natural gas?

Pretty well, thanks! I have four cords cut split and seasoned (In a typical winter I'll go through 2-3), and another two I could tap in a pinch if we have a really bad winter.

I couldn't keep the fridge going (good thing winter provides its own cold), but I have enough solar/battery capacity to keep the house lit up with efficient LEDs indefinitely, and to run an energy-efficient tablet on the off chance we have some tattered remains of a communication infrastructure to connect to (or just to while away the hours reading the entirety of Project Gutenberg). And perfect time of year, crop-wise, I'll spend the next few months canning anyway.


4 days ago

Microsoft Paid NFL $400 Million To Use Surface, But Announcers Call Them iPads

pla Re:Or, Apple could be fearful of comoditization (401 comments)

I don't see the name become generic at any point soon

You should re-read TFS, then. This entire topic centers on exactly that - "iPad" has become a generic term for any tablet, just as iPod has become a generic for any portable music player.

And I have just one thought on that: "Ha, ha!"

/ As long as they don't have ultra-high-tech proprietary rounded corners. That would just go too far.

4 days ago

Who Is Buried In the Largest Tomb Ever Found In Northern Greece?

pla Re:Where are the HD photos of the excavation site? (92 comments)

The big reveal images have already been negotiated with some major media outlet.

I have no problem with that, as long as not a single penny of public funding went into this project, nor did they find this thing on public lands.

Oh, look: "it has been funded with 180.000 euros by the Prefecture of Central Macedonia, the Ministry of Macedonia and Thace and the Ministry of Culture". Yeah, NatGeo and NBC can fuck right off, 'kay? I might give the BBC or PBS a pass on access for doing a legitimately scholarly documentary, but not exclusive rights to the imagery.

We all own our history. The fact that the government paid you to dig some of it up makes you a glorified landscaper, not some sort of artist with "rights" to pictures of the rocks you found.

4 days ago

Home Depot Confirms Breach of Its Payment Systems

pla Re:Just bite the bullet (111 comments)

You ignored what I said.

Oh, wow did I misread that! Sorry, my bad.

Clearly we disagree, rather than agreeing. Ah well, I probably would have responded with the same thing, just intro'd slightly differently. ;)

about a week ago

Home Depot Confirms Breach of Its Payment Systems

pla Re:Just bite the bullet (111 comments)

In the processing of waiting for a new card. Even if I'm not liable, I don't want my bank footing the bill for criminal purchases made by someone.

This. Everyone seems all panicked about this (along with Shaws, a regional supermarket chain) - But why care? I shop regularly at both stores, use only plastic, and... I will lose exactly zero dollars even in the worst-case scenario.

I know people who currently refuse to shop at TJ Maxx because of that breach a decade ago. Yet, such people never seem to have a good answer for how much it cost them personally (correct answer: nothing). And I fully expect the same people to start using Lowes exclusively (because at least they only screw their own employees with poor security, amiright?).

Guess what, folks - It just doesn't matter. If you report any fraudulent charges within a reasonable time after getting your statement, you have no liability, with the bank, the merchant, and the insurance company getting to argue over which of them foots the bill. Debit cards have somewhat worse terms (you front any money stolen, and start sharing the liability if it takes you too long to notice any problems), but even with them, you still have one full statement cycle to notice any fraudulent charges.

Much ado about nothing.

about a week ago

Microsoft Takes Down Slideshow-Building Tool After Getty Images Lawsuit

pla Re: So a company (81 comments)

"Produces nothing"? YAAFM. Providing a highly sought after service is not producing nothing.

Careful with throwing around those "FM" tags - Because yes actually, providing a service very much does not mean they "produce" anything. Getty stands in the middle of real work, between producing photos and producing creatives, adding nothing but fees as their value-add proposition.

In the case of Getty, they provide a service in many ways inferior to GIS or BIS, which kinda counts as the whole reason we have this topic in the first place - MS's cute little slideshow widget worked better than Getty, thereby completely shutting Getty out of the picture.

Free hint - Grandma ain't gonna license your stupid stock photo anyway, she'll just use the watermarked sample. Same goes for that class of Marketing 101 students. Anyone actually interested in paying for stock photos, OTOH, already understands the difference between freely available vs licensed content, and damned well won't risk their job "accidentally" ripping off random photographers.

This has nothing to do with copyrights, and everything to do with buggy whips.

about a week ago

Facebook Blamed For Driving Up Cellphone Bills, But It's Not Alone

pla Re:Stupid design, appalling (131 comments)

Too many companies continue to take their product, fiddle / fuck with it for the sake of change (keeping UI designers in a job I suspect) and then antagonise their users. Google maps is a prime example, the new google maps is AWFUL compared to the existing one, lacking several key features. Please, stop fiddling and changing things.

I agree with you completely (in particular about the new god-awful Google Maps interface, hell, it makes Beta almost look like a role-model of useability by comparison), but I think you, and the FP, and TFA, and countless others complaining about this issue may have missed the glaringly obvious solution...

"There's an app for that". Goes by the name of "any modern browser", just enable its version of click-to-play (or for slightly older browsers - Lookin' at you, no-Chrome-before-Honeycomb, just run your favorite version of noscript/flashblock/etc.)

You don't need to give every website you visit its own little chunk of your phone just because it asks for one. "Have you tried our app yet?" - No. No, I haven't, and won't until your marketing department stops treating my phone as just one more way to track me (ie, never).

about two weeks ago

In Maryland, a Soviet-Style Punishment For a Novelist

pla Re:Habeas corpus (441 comments)

and thus you are not guilty of a crime!

...Which will really make your next of kin feel better about the whole situation.

No mistake, I agree with you, but they call what you describe "suicide by cop", and legal vs illegal won't really much matter when they squeegee your remains off the pavement.

about two weeks ago

Interview: Ask Christopher "moot" Poole About 4chan and Social Media

pla Re:Question 1 (220 comments)

no, thats a question for ICP, in 2009...

Thus making it...

(puts on sunglasses)

... A "Moot" question!


about two weeks ago

Coffee Naps Better For Alertness Than Coffee Or Naps Alone

pla Re:Good way to make yourself ill (133 comments)

Maybe people should just sleep 8 hours a night like they're supposed to.

We don't naturally sleep 8 hours a night. We naturally sleep for two blocks of 3-4 hours per day, which the lifestyle requirements of the modern world have forced to occur in a more-or-less continuous 7-8 hour block.

Pre-industrially, those two blocks would have an hour or two of waking time between them; modern research (mostly military) has found that splitting them apart further allows people to go with as little as 4-5 hours of sleep per 24 hour period with only minimal impact on performance.

about two weeks ago

US Government Fights To Not Explain No-Fly List Selection Process

pla Re:America (248 comments)

It's my pet theory that this is the mechanism by which we get so many libertarians.

Strange, you just keep tossing out random completely off-topic straw-man attacks against Libertarians... And in a context where they would agree with you completely.

Libertarians hate big-government, and in general consider the patriot act nothing short of an abomination. Bringing up your personal demons at every opportunity really doesn't look any better than the morons who blame Obama for everything.

about two weeks ago



French anti-piracy logo uses pirated fonts

pla pla writes  |  more than 4 years ago

pla (258480) writes "Cory Doctorow reports (and FontFeed confirms, with better fact-checking) that the French governmental agency in charge of enforcing their new "Three Strikes" Law, Hadopi, has made use of not just one, but two unlicensed fonts in their official logo.

One of these, "Bienvenue", exists only as a privately owned font designed exclusively for France Telecom with no licensing terms available whatsoever. Hadopi claims they never intended that version of the logo for release — Despite having registered it (complete with infringing fonts) as a trademark two months ago. For the other font used in their logo (including both the original and the replacement), "Bliss", they didn't purchase a license to use it until the very day they found it necessary to release a non-infringing replacement logo."



Call me paranoid, but...

pla pla writes  |  more than 8 years ago So today I posted a little off-the-cuff comment about parenting and video-games... Nothing major, though undeniably strongly opinionated. Agree or disagree as you will - Not the point of this journal entry.

First mod to it, troll. Okay, I think, I've gotten an awfully lot of those lately to posts I clearly didn't mean as trolling or flamebait, but whatever, perhaps I have an anti-fanboi.

Then later, I got two interestings and an insightful. Okay, not bad, that at least pushes me up to a +2, which with my karma bonus gives a total score of 4. Which it did indeed show.

Now, a few hours later I check back again, and see a total score of two, still with the same breakdown of a troll, an insightful, and two interestings. Biggest difference, my karma bonus has vanished (though my account still shows me as having excellent karma, so not like I magically lost my good karma between 4:30pm and 8:15pm).

So... As the subject line says, "call me paranoid, but" who has the power to change that? Do we have editors seriously abusing their powers, going around making Slashdot's moderation system even less meaningful than its normal, defective, modstorm-prone state?

I'd really like to know... I've written 1858 posts to Slashdot in the past few years, on the presumption that, except for the Gods correcting truly egregious abuses, the moderation system at least works at face value. If every slave-labor underling working at /. can just up and steal karma from posts that hit on one of their peeves, I'd like to know not to waste any more of my life contributing to a lost cause...


Interesting ratings...

pla pla writes  |  more than 11 years ago "Score:-1, Insightful"

I can only say, "WTF"? How does an insightful comment get a -1?

Heh. If I took this seriously, I might feel somewhat concerned by the logic behind that.

Overall, though, I find it more *amusing* that one person's "insightful" equals another's "flamebait" or "troll". I can understand reduntant, or overrated, but flamebait and troll seem mutually exclusive from any positive mods whatsoever.

Strange world we live in. Well... No, just strange people in it. ;-)


Wow, I have fans! (And freaks...)

pla pla writes  |  more than 11 years ago So, my first /. journal entry. Forgive the me-centric nature of it, but I just spent a few minutes wandering around my preferences page, and noticed all sorts of cool things.

Most interestingly, I actually have fans and freaks! Eerie.

I don't quite know *how* I got them, since I did a quick perusal of their posting history, and we don't seem to have any obvious threads in common. Do people just randomly add others to their friends and foes list?

Oh, and I seem to have moderator points once again. In all the years I've used Slashdot, I got my first moderator points only a few months ago. Now, this latest set of points makes my third (fourth?) time.

So, in other news, I managed to get a comment of mine modded out of existance today. So what have I learned from slashdot? One, don't say anything bad about Apple - those fans get *vicious*, even about very guarded criticism. And two, in a forum of mostly geeks, don't attack science (the institution, not the techniques) as little more than a modern religion, complete with priests, acolytes, and inviolable holy doctrine.

Hmm, okay. I guess I'll stop now.

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