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Comments

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2014 Hour of Code: Do Ends Justify Disney Product Placement Means?

schnell Re:Disney and LEGO are very different (68 comments)

Ooh, lots of dubious assertions to riposte. :-)

people could legitimately argue "you let that profit making company knowingly use your trademark for 0 dollars, so charging us more would be illegal"

There is nothing illegal about charging people different rates for the same thing unless the way you do it is in violation of regulated industry rules or non-discrimination laws. It is perfectly legal for me to sell identical used cars to you for $1000 and to the next guy for $2000 because you negotiated better. It is illegal for me to charge him $2000 because he's black and $1000 to you because you're white; or for my utility to charge you $200/kWh when the PUC says the maximum retail rate is $.00068/kWh. Similarly, there is nothing wrong for Disney to tell Apple they can put a Mickey Mouse icon for free on the Apple Watch but charge Microsoft $1M to do the same thing on the Microsoft Band. So no trademark legal danger there.

your theory that granting a nonexclusive license for qualifying noncommercial uses will weaken a trademark

Was the day-care center in question non-profit? Otherwise then, no, it is not a noncommercial use. Either way, it's not whether it's commercial or noncommercial use that matters in trademark law. If I'm Disney and a nonprofit children's shelter calls itself the "Bambi Adoption Center," they are still infringing on my trademark just as much as if they were for-profit. I could be nice and let them license the Bambi name for a penny, which is not Disney's strategy... but either way it's still actionable infringement. While commercial/non-commercial may have some meaning in OSS/CCA licensing, it means diddly squat in trademark law.

2 hours ago
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Ukraine's IT Brigade Supports the Troops

schnell Re:Sell them stuff (119 comments)

Why can't we sell this junk to the Ukrainians and make a profit

Fair question but unfortunately the answer is:

  • We wouldn't make a profit. We might make slightly more than selling it for scrap, but it's not like battle-worn Humvees fetch anywhere near what they cost us... that's why the military is (inappropriately) giving them away to the cops in the US.
  • Ukraine is not exactly swimming in money to buy these things. Their economy has suffered 10% contraction in the past year and they can't even afford to subsidize the natural gas needed to keep their citizens alive this winter, now that Russia has jacked up the rates.
  • Selling arms to Ukraine (or fast tracking its entry into NATO) would be a major provocation to Russia and would set the stage for a potential full-on NATO vs. Russia regional conflict. Putin has enough crazy in him that he can't be trusted not to do something extremely stupid that would hurt him more in the long run, but would be painful enough to both sides that there would be no "winner." That's a hornet's nest you don't want to poke until you have exhausted every other conceivable alternative.

yesterday
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Swedish Court Refuses To Revoke Julian Assange's Arrest Warrant

schnell Re:Sounds reasonable (237 comments)

when they finally get him into the U.S.

Where does this keep coming from? He has not been charged with any crime in the US, nor have any judicial proceedings even been started against him. Sweden can't extradite him for this even if they wanted to. So why do people keep talking about this as a ploy to have him extradited to the U.S.? There is exactly as much proof (or even logic) that this whole thing is a US-led plot as there is that this was a plot by the U.K. to get him to flee there. Or that this was a plot led by Ecuador, Afghanistan or Vanuatu.

Apply Occam's razor (gently). Just maybe this is a guy who had sex with women in Sweden when they didn't want him to, and this is a crime in Sweden, and they want him back there to put him on trial... in Sweden. Just maybe.

2 days ago
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Russia May Be Planning National Space Station To Replace ISS

schnell Re:We'll build our own station (225 comments)

it gives them no meaningful bonus of any kind - science or military wise

This is something that has long bothered me: what do they do on the ISS that is "important science" worth all the money and hassle? I can go read a list of experiments on the station, but it all sounds like picayune little science projects to me. Can somebody who knows more about this than me give me some context on what the heck is Really Important about work done on the ISS? Or do we just send people and things to it Because It's There?

2 days ago
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Harvard Students Move Fossil Fuel Stock Fight To Court

schnell Re:Standing (200 comments)

the issue of whether the students were legally qualified to sue, known as standing, could be fatal to the studentsâ(TM) suit

Precisely this. The whole case is in an idealistic sense understandable - if you are in college and you aren't challenging the real or imagined injustices of the world in some way, you're missing the whole point of being young enough to still be self-absorbed and righteous, but not old enough to be in the real world. But from a practical view, it's just a bunch of overprivileged Harvard kids looking for something to protest and wasting the time of our overburdened court system in the process. My 18-year-old me would applaud them but my current 40-year-old self thinks they should shut the f**k up and go do something useful instead.

Disclaimer: I know several Harvard alumni and count a few of them as my friends. I am probably unfairly biased against Harvard since in my experience these alums are (sorry friends) not noticeably smarter than everyone else - in some cases less so - in a way that justifies a Harvard degree being an automatic ticket to wealth and insider access. Which, unfortunately, it is.

3 days ago
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As Amazon Grows In Seattle, Pay Equity For Women Declines

schnell Re:I bet Amazon would love to hire more women. (482 comments)

It's not good to put all your eggs in one basket.

Fair point, but Seattle is hardly a one-trick pony. Leaving aside Amazon... Microsoft, Boeing and Starbucks HQ are all major employers here. Just in tech alone, you also have Nintendo, Valve, Bungie, Disney Mobile and others here as well as satellite offices for Google, Facebook and (soon) Apple.

I think the point of the article (maybe?) is that Amazon is getting really big in Seattle, and the infrastructure here is already strained from the expanding tech industry. Amazon's growth could be more than the city can handle, dragging down quality of life for everyone.

3 days ago
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Alleged Satellite Photo Says Ukraine Shootdown of MH17

schnell Re:uh, no? (339 comments)

Overall, the case is getting stranger with every relevation.

No, no it is not. This is a pretty blatant forgery - for a step-by-step walkthrough of what's obviously faked about it (including screenshots of the months-old Google Maps images and others that were used) please visit here.

Giving this any credence by saying the case "gets stranger" is like reading some 9/11 truther's article and saying that it makes the truth behind the attacks "more puzzling." It doesn't. It just shows that some people are either disconnected from the truth or (in this case) willing to actively fabricate things to obscure it.

about a week ago
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Alleged Satellite Photo Says Ukraine Shootdown of MH17

schnell Re:False flag (339 comments)

So someone is trying to make it look like Russia is releasing this garbage which looks prepared by some Ukrainian half-wit.

Umm... if Russian is not "releasing" this, why is Russian state television showing this and claiming it is real?

DOES NOT COMPUTE... NOMAD ERROR? ERROR? ERROR? EXAMINE.

about a week ago
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Comcast Kisses-Up To Obama, Publicly Agrees On Net Neutrality

schnell Re:Private Links != Paid Priority (258 comments)

It's at "Naturally occurring". Analyse that part of the equation.

You seem to think that you understand the politics of Internet peering, but I don't think you actually do. Not trying to be a jerk, but if you haven't worked on this stuff at a large ISP this whole question seems far more black and white than it actually is.

The question of settlement-free peering vs. transit is almost as old as the Internet. Network A is bigger, and Network B is smaller (or Network A has significant in/out flows of traffic while Network B has largely unidirectional traffic). There are not many Network As out there and lots of Network Bs. Network A should not need to spend the money to put in direct links of whatever size to all the Network Bs out there. It makes sense to do so with other networks the size of Network A but not for private connections of whatever size Network B wants. So Network A says to Network B, "No free soup for you. Buy bandwidth from someone who does peer with me (or pays me to peer), or you can pay me to connect directly." If Network B is buying bandwidth from someone who doesn't have big enough connections to Network A (or doesn't want to pay for bigger connections) then there can be congestion.

This is not new. It is not unique to Netflix. It is very common, in fact, with anyone using Netflix's traditional cheap-ass bandwidth provider, Cogent. (I use cheap-ass not as a compliment to Cogent's low rates but as a descriptor of the quality of their peering and transit links.) You can make a reasonable argument that Netflix is unique and should be given a pass on paying for transit because of customers of the ISP wanting that data. But from the ISP's perspective that creates a slippery slope (because everybody's traffic is important to someone) and all the smaller networks will want the same exception... maybe even to the point of being willing to sue over it or stage a damaging publicity war over it like Netflix did. For the big ISPs, they feel the need to hold firm on this question to avoid that slippery slope.

It sucks that peering is inherently political, and besides that nobody likes Comcast. But please stop trying to make the Netflix peering thing sound like something more nefarious than it actually is.

about a week ago
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How 4H Is Helping Big Ag Take Over Africa

schnell Re:Nope (377 comments)

Centuries of study show us that many homeopathic cures do work.

I am not sure that you understand what "study" means in a modern scientific sense. If there are any of those showing the efficacy of homeopathy, please provide links - I am genuinely interested in seeing them (not snide, seriously).

As an example, I have a medical doctor who suggested drinking camomile tea to help me sleep, and it works. He could have prescribed a man made chemical to do the same thing

Now I am not sure that you understand what homeopathy means. Read the linked Wiki page to understand (it involves ingesting ridiculously diluted chemicals to purportedly cure illnesses on the utterly unsubstantiated theories of "like cures like" and "water memory."

I think what you're referring to is naturopathy, which is a whole different kettle of fish. My wife is a big believer in naturopathy, and while I think some of it is touchy-feely new age quackery, there is no dispute that naturally occurring plants, herbs and other medicinal sources can be effective healing tools. So no argument there.

My personal $.02 is that many people who prefer naturopathic medicine and oppose GMOs - my wife among them - do so not from a scientific viewpoint but from a moral viewpoint. Many of us would much rather trust things that grow naturally than are made artificially. But while it may ultimately prove true that some GMOs are harmful, I strongly believe that we should come to that conclusion through scientific study, not because we "feel" that something lab-created is inferior to something made by human science.

Nature made the Black Plague, tobacco, lard and the Destroying Angel mushrooms, too. Just because it's natural doesn't necessarily make it better for you, or make man-created things bad.

about two weeks ago
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President Obama Backs Regulation of Broadband As a Utility

schnell Re:Obama (704 comments)

You seem to forget all the innovation that happened while Ma Bell was both a monopoly AND heavily regulated. During that period, they invented little things like the diode, transistor, cellular phone networks, UNIX, C... The regulation meant that Bell Labs was highly accountable and had to be very civic-minded with all their pursuits to justify their protected monopoly status. That's a heck of a counterexample to your assertion.

A very fair point. All that I can say in response is that AT&T did all this advanced research and created these things in part because they were such a gigantic regulated monopoly, raking in so much cash, that they desperately needed to find things to spend money on that could be at least tangentially connected to their business.

To get a heavily regulated company to the point where they start innovating for the lulz of it, you have to have a pretty frickin' huge monopoly that generates reams of cash. The only modern analog I can think of is Microsoft Labs and all the cool stuff they have come up with over the past 20 years because Microsoft had more money than it knew what to do with. Other regulated companies that don't just print huge bundles of cash on a national or global basis - think Baby Bells, electric utilities, waste management companies - do not produce much in the way of innovation.

So, on balance, do you think you would get more innovation out of a hyper-behemoth regulated monopoly that had cash to spare, or would you rather have a bunch of non-regulated companies that had to compete to create new things?

about two weeks ago
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President Obama Backs Regulation of Broadband As a Utility

schnell Re:Obama (704 comments)

AT&T didn't break up voluntarily; it was forced (i.e., regulated) to do so under the Anti-Trust Act.

Sorry, perhaps I should have been clearer that the divestiture was pursued by the Justice Department for those reasons. Companies may "split" but they don't pursue to "divest" themselves, but I thought that was implicit.

You've got that backwards: the Baby Bells pushed ISDN because they weren't regulated effectively enough to force them to do better. And if it weren't for the little regulation they did get [wikipedia.org], they wouldn't have even bothered pushing ISDN and instead would have been content to keep everyone stuck on dial-up.

How do you regulate "forc[ing] them to do better?" Should the government have said "you need to come up with some new technology by year X that offers Y Mbps of broadband and offer it for $Z per month... or else?" even when that technology doesn't exist yet? Because while that sounds awesome it's not realistic. Even government mandates like MPG to car companies usually have targets to improve a certain percentage by an incremental target 15 or 20 years in the future, which is eons when it comes to the Internet.

I'm sorry if you disagree with my thesis, but I believe the evidence supports it strongly: regulation is generally synonymous with providing better customer service and avoiding pricing abuses. It is almost never synonymous with innovation and incentivizing new technologies or business models.

about two weeks ago
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President Obama Backs Regulation of Broadband As a Utility

schnell Re:Obama (704 comments)

You mean, after AT&T was regulated by being broken up and by being forced to allow third-party devices (e.g. modems), major innovation was able to start.

Umm, no. On a couple counts:

  • Divestiture didn't have anything to do with attaching 3rd party devices to the phone network; you're thinking of the Carterfone decision from 1968, which was a full 16 years before AT&T was split up.
  • AT&T was actually more heavily regulated before its divestiture, as a nationwide telecommunications monopoly. It was prevented from getting into whole lines of business (hence why it gave away UNIX because it couldn't sell it). The divestiture was pursued specifically to strip away the heavily regulated parts (the local telcos) from the largely unregulated parts (long distance, cable, etc.) See this book for more details. Under that regulation, think about the degree of innovation you got out of the Baby Bells... who were still pushing ISDN as "broadband" in the late '90s.
  • The one piece of regulation that did actually manage to spur consumer-friendly innovation in telecom in recent memory was the 1996 Telecom Act, which actually reduced regulation in many areas (the "carrot" for telcos) while simultaneously increasing competition in others (the "stick"), such as forcing the Baby Bells to allow competitive access to their DSLAMs to provide DSL service, etc.

Regulation is very important in many industries, including telecommunications. But it is almost never synonymous with innovation.

about two weeks ago
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Washington Dancers Sue To Prevent Identity Disclosure

schnell Re:Yes, but the real problem is being ignored. (461 comments)

If only we had some sort of state-issued document that verifies your age -- maybe even with a picture on it. I guess that's just a pipe dream, huh?

Look, I think this is a stupid law, but it's not hard to see past your objections and see where the state is coming from.

It's not all that terribly hard to get a fake ID that will pass muster at a bar. (It's a different issue to get one that will pass muster at a TSA check, or passport application, for example.)

You accidentally let a 19-year-old in to drink with a fake ID, not a huge deal in terms of liability, right? You will probably get fined if he/she gets caught in a sting, worse if they get a DUI, but it's pretty understandable and unlikely to put your strip club out of business.

But let's say a 17-year-old has a good fake ID and gets a job stripping at your club. What is your liability if someone takes pictures and you are the source of "child porn?" What about if she is doing tricks on the side and, worse than abetting prostitution, you are abetting "child prostitution?" Repeat this same exercise for any number of potential legal violations.

It is in the interest of all the strip club owners that saying "this person is OK to be a person who shows their boobies for money" is in the hands of the state rather than the bartender or bouncer who interviewed her/him on their first day of work. (And also theoretically in the interest of anyone who goes to that club and wishes to film, proposition or otherwise engage them.) It sounds puritanical at first, but from a liability limitation perspective I think it is very defensible.

about two weeks ago
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Washington Dancers Sue To Prevent Identity Disclosure

schnell Re:Yes, but the real problem is being ignored. (461 comments)

Same-sex marriage has absolutely nothing to do with prudishness, nor does marijuana.

Just out of curiosity, what is your definition of "prudishness?"

about two weeks ago
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Washington Dancers Sue To Prevent Identity Disclosure

schnell Re:Yes, but the real problem is being ignored. (461 comments)

Washington used to be a rather "liberal" state, in the social sense of the word. But over the years, for some reason, it has become more prudish and also more oppressive.

Are we talking about the same Washington State that I live in? Because being the only (I believe) state in the US where you can both get a same-sex wedding and legally buy recreational (not medical) marijuana at a retail store does not scream "prudish" or "oppressive" to me.

about two weeks ago
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Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo Crashes

schnell Re:Not a good week... (445 comments)

Did you notice that we got to space, as in actually into orbit and beyond already? As in several nations, separately with separate independent programs? Without rich people funding it?

Er, rich people did fund it, although it was in the form of taxes. Everyone else in the US and Soviet Union funded it too, because those governments shoveled nontrivial portions of their GDPs into the effort at the expense of using that money for things like reducing poverty, improving education or curing diseases.

Today, you have private companies spending their money on this effort instead, to the potential detriment of basically nobody but their own shareholders who voluntarily chose to take a risk on that investment. How can that possibly be a bad thing?

You know, the commercial aviation industry post-WWII was seen as nothing but a luxury for the "one percenters" of that day. Over time you evolved a deregulated airline market in the US that provided flight options for el cheapo travelers, first-class jet-setters and everyone in between. Maybe space flight will get there too but it doesn't do so without that first phase of being a toy for those entitled rich snobs who "just don't have the patience to take the train like the rest of us."

about three weeks ago
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How Apple Watch Is Really a Regression In Watchmaking

schnell Re:cell phones and notepads (415 comments)

Personally, I keep my appointment book with paper and pencil. I can access it anywhere, at any time

...as long as "anywhere" and "anytime" includes "that I have brought my appointment book with me." How often do you actually carry your appointment book with you?

Additionally, how do other people know when you're free for meetings? In our (very very large) company, everyone's schedules are visible in Exchange so people can tell when you are available and try to schedule a meeting at a time that's convenient to everyone. How does having an offline calendar work for you in that regard?

about three weeks ago
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Gigabit Cellular Networks Could Happen, With 24GHz Spectrum

schnell Re:Water frequency interference (52 comments)

You're correct. The wavelength of Ka-band frequencies (26-40 GHz) happens to line up nicely with the size of a raindrop in flight. That leads to more atmospheric signal attenuation, but isn't necessarily a deal-breaker; it just means you need a bigger dish to receive it and a more powerful transmitter for the return channel. (The new generation of high-speed satellite Internet services all use Ka band, despite the "rain fade" issues, because the higher frequency enables higher data rates.) In the past, the satellite industry tended to rely on lower frequency bands (such as Ku and C) to save costs on dish/transmitter size because of this concern.

For a cellular service where you're looking laterally at a tower instead of straight up into the sky, the weather issue should be less of a big deal. However, you should note that any frequency that high up will have a very very hard time penetrating indoors through anything thicker than a single-pane window. So expect that this will be used for fixed home Internet applications where a receiver can be permanently mounted outdoors or near a window, rather than traditional cellphone usage that can happen anywhere you go indoors or outdoors.

about a month ago
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Michigan About To Ban Tesla Sales

schnell Re:Wonder How Much? (294 comments)

uh... have you seen the state of Detroit lately?

"Detroit" is only nominally the home of the auto industry, and is maintained by Ford and GM as a brand of sorts to evoke classic American cars.

Other than executive offices, all the big auto manufacturing plants are situated - and nearly all the workers live - well outside the city itself, in the suburbs where (other than being impacted by Detroit's implosion and the overall Great Recession decline) things are pretty good.

So when you hear someone say "Detroit is fighting Tesla," thats not the case. Detroit couldn't fight Pawnee, Indiana and win two out of three. What they really actually mean is "Detroit" the brand/region, i.e. the corporations that employ hundreds of thousands of Michigan voters - and the suppliers/subcontractors/vendors to those companies, who probably employ as many if not more Michigan residents. So don't take Detroit's colossal f***up as any indication that the power of Ford/GM, its ecosystem and perhaps most importantly the UAW as being diminished in any way.

about a month ago

Submissions

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How "big ideas" are actually hurting international development

schnell schnell writes  |  yesterday

schnell (163007) writes "The New Yorker is running a fascinating article that analyzes the changing state of foreign development. Tech entrepreneurs and celebrities are increasingly realizing the inefficiencies of the old charitable NGO-based model of foreign aid, and shifting their support to "disruptive" new ideas that have been demonstrated in small experiments to deliver disproportionately beneficial results. But multiple studies now show that "game changing" ideas that prove revolutionary in limited studies fail to prove effective at scale, and are limited by a simple and disappointing fact: no matter how revolutionary your idea is, whether it works or not is wholly dependent on 1.) the local culture and circumstances, and 2.) who is implementing the program."
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US Rust Belt Manufacturing Rebounds Via Fracking Boom

schnell schnell writes  |  about 2 months ago

schnell (163007) writes "A New York Times article reports that Midwestern "Rust Belt" towns and their manufacturing economies in particular have rebounded greatly due to the US resurgence in fossil fuel production, driven by production of shale gas and natural gas from "fracking" and other new technologies that recover previously unavailable fuel but are more invasive than traditional techniques. “Both Youngstown and Canton are places which experienced nothing but disinvestment for 40 years" ... “[now] they’re not ghost towns anymore," according to the article. But while many have decried the loss of traditional US manufacturing jobs in a globalized world and the associated loss of high-wage blue collar jobs, do the associated environmental risks of new "tight oil" extraction techniques outweigh the benefits to these depressed economic regions?"
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When Beliefs and Facts Collide

schnell schnell writes  |  about 5 months ago

schnell (163007) writes "A New York Times article discusses a recent Yale study that shows that contrary to popular belief, increased scientific literacy does not correspond to increased belief in accepted scientific findings when it contradicts their religious or political views. The article notes that this is true across the political/religious spectrum and "factual and scientific evidence is often ineffective at reducing misperceptions and can even backfire on issues like weapons of mass destruction, health care reform and vaccines." So what is to be done? The article suggests that "we need to try to break the association between identity and factual beliefs on high-profile issues – for instance, by making clear that you can believe in human-induced climate change and still be a conservative Republican." But given the propensity of all humans towards cognitive bias and even magical thinking, should we just resign ourselves to the idea that democracies will never make their decisions based purely on science?"
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The Fall and Rise of Larry Page

schnell schnell writes  |  about 7 months ago

schnell (163007) writes "Slate's has a long, detailed story about how Larry Page founded Google, how he struggled with its growth, and ultimately how he came back to reinvigorate it. The story recounts fascinating details about Page's relationship to Sergey Brin, the combative culture Page fostered in the company's early years, his resistance to having engineers managed by non-engineers, the company's struggle through its rapid growth, and how Page once even wanted to hire Steve Jobs as Google's CEO."
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Ask Slashdot: What Online News Is Worth Paying For?

schnell schnell writes  |  about 10 months ago

schnell (163007) writes "The increasing prevalence of online news paywalls and "nag walls" (e.g. you can only read so many articles per month) has forced me to divide those websites into two categories: those that offer content that is unique or good enough to pay for vs. those that don't. Examples of the former for me included The Economist and Foreign Policy, while other previous favorite sites The New York Times and even my hometown Seattle Times have lost my online readership entirely. I also have a secret third category — sites that don't currently pay/nag wall, but I would pay for if I had to — Ars Technica and Long Form come to mind. What news/aggregation sites are other Slashdotters out there willing to pay for, and why? What sites that don't charge today would you pay for if you had to? Or, knowing this crowd, are the majority just opposed to paying for any web news content on principle?"
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It Pays To Be Pretty

schnell schnell writes  |  about a year ago

schnell (163007) writes "A new study from the University of Illinois in Chicago has quantified how being physically attractive is correlated with being rated as "intelligent" or "promising" and earning higher pay in the workplace, not just in adulthood but as far back as high school. It may not be as simple as rewarding people who are pretty to look at, as one of the study's authors noted that it may be more a result of "early successes and confidence boosters may create a self-fulfilling prophecy in which the attractive high school students end up being more successful in adulthood." Being attractive is also associated with some risks, since "more attractive teens also were more likely to drink heavily and have more sexual partners.""
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Stuxnet's "Secret Twin" Was Even More Damaging and Better Hidden

schnell schnell writes  |  1 year,4 days

schnell (163007) writes "Cyberdefense analyst Ralph Langner reports the results of a lengthy investigation into Stuxnet in Foreign Affairs, revealing that the Stuxnet we know was only the later and more obvious part of a sophisticated cyber attack on Iran's nuclear enrichment program. Two years before the release of the better-known Stuxnet variant, an original version was launched with a more subtle and stealthy mission — wearing down centrifuges gradually through improper overuse. While it couldn't spread itself as easily as the later Stuxnet, it was deliberately designed to degrade centrifuges slowly and remain invisible. The author also speculates that the discovery of the later Stuxnet version was actually beneficial to the US, since if another country was outed first as having engaged in cyberwarfare, it would seem a "Pearl Harbor" that made the US look weak in terms of its cyberwar capabilities."
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How Blockbuster Could Have Owned Netflix

schnell schnell writes  |  1 year,10 days

schnell (163007) writes "Your age probably determines whether you think of Blockbuster Video as a fond memory or a dinosaur predestined for extinction. While the last Blockbuster rental at the last remaining Blockbuster video store took place last week, Variety retells a now-classic story of how Blockbuster could have bought Netflix for a song, but didn't because it failed to take the new DVD-by-mail and video streaming markets seriously. Who is next to join Blockbuster, Polaroid, Borders and Best Buy on the ash heap of superseded retail business models?"
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How BlackBerry Blew It

schnell schnell writes  |  about a year ago

schnell (163007) writes "The Globe and Mail is running a fascinating in-depth report on how BlackBerry went from the world leader in smartphones to a company on the brink of collapse. It paints a picture of a company with deep engineering talent but hamstrung by arrogance, indecision, slowness to embrace change, and a lack of internal accountability. From the story: "'The problem wasn’t that we stopped listening to customers,' said one former RIM insider. 'We believed we knew better what customers needed long term than they did.'""
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The Techie General Who Made the NSA What It Is Today

schnell schnell writes  |  about a year ago

schnell (163007) writes "Foreign Policy magazine is running a fascinating portrait of Gen. Keith Alexander, the "techie general" who leads both the NSA and US Cyber Command. It paints a picture of a leader with both a career-long background of SIGINT engineering skills and exceptional political savvy, expanding the NSA's scope to fulfill his "big data" vision and its ability to map far-flung connections into a picture of intelligent threat analysis. While some of the anonymous intelligence officials quoted in the story call into question the results of Alexander's big data approach (including impressive-looking "contact maps" for suspected terrorists that included unrelated points like pizza shops), Alexander's techie vision for the NSA has transformed its mission into one of potentially much greater usefulness ... but also one with the potential for much greater abuse."
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"Into Darkness" Really the Worst "Star Trek" Movie Ever?

schnell schnell writes  |  about a year ago

schnell (163007) writes "Despite maintaining an 87% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the Star Trek faithful at a recent convention have spoken and rated "Star Trek Into Darkness" the worst movie in the franchise. So bad, in fact, that it came in 13th in a list of 12 Star Trek films — the extra slot coming because 1999's brilliant Galaxy Quest was considered in the voting. But was the movie really that bad? Simon Pegg thinks not and has a f-bomb to share with its critics, but how about you?"
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Snowden Masqueraded As Top Officials To Mine NSA's Deepest Secrets

schnell schnell writes  |  about a year ago

schnell (163007) writes "As government investigators continue to try to figure out just how much data whistleblower Edward Snowden had access to, MSNBC is reporting that Snowden used his sysadmin privileges to assume the user profiles of top NSA officials in order to gain access to the most sensitive files. His sysadmin privileges also enabled him to do something other NSA users can't — download classified files from NSAnet onto a thumb drive. “Every day, they are learning how brilliant [Snowden] was,” said a former U.S. official with knowledge of the case. “This is why you don’t hire brilliant people for jobs like this. You hire smart people. Brilliant people get you in trouble.”"
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Area 51 No Longer (Officially) a Secret

schnell schnell writes  |  about a year ago

schnell (163007) writes "The first-ever declassified story of Area 51's origin is now available, thanks to a Freedom of Information Act filed years ago by George Washington University's National Security Archive. The (only lightly redacted) document is actually primarily a history of the U-2 and A-12 ("Oxcart") spy plane programs from the Cold War, but is remarkable for being the first-ever official unclassified acknowledgement of the Area 51's purpose and its role in the program. Interesting tidbits include that the U-2 program was kicked off with a CIA check mailed personally to Lockheed Skunk Works chief Kelly Johnson for $1.25M; a U-2 was launched off an aircraft carrier to spy on French nuclear tests; and the U-2 delivery program itself was actually done under budget, a rarity for secret government programs then or now."
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The paradox of Julian Assange and Wikileaks

schnell schnell writes  |  about 2 years ago

schnell writes "The New Statesman is publishing a new in-depth article that examines in detail the seemingly paradoxical nature of Wikileaks' brave mission of public transparency with the private opaqueness of Julian Assange's leadership. On one hand, Wikileaks created "a transparency mechanism to hold governments and corporations to account" when nobody else could or would. On the other hand, Wikileaks itself was "guilty of the same obfuscation and misinformation as those it sought to expose, while its supporters are expected to follow, unquestioningly, in blinkered, cultish devotion." If Wikileaks performs a public service exposing the secrets of others but censors its own secrets, does it really matter? Or are the ethics of the organization and its leader inseparable?"
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WW2 carrier pigeon's code may never be broken

schnell schnell writes  |  about 2 years ago

schnell writes "Earlier this month, a man cleaning out his fireplace in Surrey, England, found a 70-year-old carrier pigeon skeleton with a coded message strapped to its leg. Pigeons were widely used by the Allies in WW2 to carry messages between Britain and the continent, but since the message is short (27 five-character groups) and because the cipher books used at the time should all have been destroyed, it's unlikely modern cryptographers will ever be able to unravel its sender, intended recipient or message contents. “Without access to the relevant code books and details of any additional encryption used, it will remain impossible to decrypt,” a [GCHQ] spokesman said... might this become another 21st century challenge for amateur cryptographers like the Beale ciphers?"
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Are socially shared photos free?

schnell schnell writes  |  more than 2 years ago

schnell writes "Stefanie Gordon took a now-famous photo of Space Shuttle Endeavour out the window of her airplane seat and tweeted it to friends. By the time she was leaving the airport, she was barraged with media requests. The photo has been viewed nearly one million times on hundreds of websites, but Stephanie was paid for the photo by only five news organizations. Stephanie doesn't feel slighted, but a professional news photographer would have been paid many times what Stephanie received. In today's climate, are amateur photos shared on Twitter or Facebook basically free for all websites to use? Is re-tweeting or re-sharing automatically fair use?"
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Can apps really damage a cellular network?

schnell schnell writes  |  more than 4 years ago

schnell writes "In recent FCC filings, T-Mobile described how the behavior of one Android IM app nearly brought their cellular data network to a breakdown in one city. Even more interesting, the US carrier describes how just the 300,000 unlocked iPhones on their network caused massive spikes in data usage. T-Mobile is using these anecdotes as evidence that mobile carriers shuold be able to retain control over the applications and devices on their network to ensure quality of service for all users. Do they have a point?"
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Major GTA IV bug leaves PS3 users in a lurch

schnell schnell writes  |  more than 6 years ago

schnell writes "So it turns out that the PS3 version of Grand Theft Auto IV was shipped before being adequately tested. Upon starting my saved game tonight GTA froze up during gameplay. Even following the online suggestions that I uninstall the game and delete my saved games didn't fix the problem. Then I discovered that I wasn't alone with this issue. It seems this bug was initially discovered on the 60 GB (hardware backwards-compatible) PS3 but is also being seen on other models. I have already bought the game so Rockstar has my money — I just want them to step up to the plate and fix this so I can play the game I spent $60 for!"
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