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Comment: Re:OCR (Score 5, Insightful) 149

by Antique Geekmeister (#47548483) Attached to: Microsoft's Nokia Plans Come Into Better Focus

> I like the part where they are magically going to make OCR work

I'm afraid you could have left it right there, with no mention of cell phones or their cameras. OCR, much like speech-to-text software, has plateaued and not noticeably improved in the last 10 years. It's became more available as software has become more powerful. But the underlying technologies have been quite stable. Despite flurries of new patents with every update to such software, the fundamental algorithms remain unchanged and have been stable for roughly 20 years.

Comment: Re:Transparency (Score 4, Informative) 139

> there's never been a more secretive administration in the US.

Oh, my. I don't know if you're young, or if the easy access of the modern Internet has confused you about just how _little_ information was available to the general population about government programs 30 years ago or more. Do, please, look up the history of the Pentagon Papers.

Comment: Re:Cost (Score 1) 184

by Antique Geekmeister (#47529763) Attached to: "Magic Helmet" For F-35 Ready For Delivery

> This is especially bad if they turn out to be seriously vulnerable to any missile system developed that isn't ruinously expensive per shot or a closely held secret used only by somebody's elite guard

Or if, say, the very large and expensive amount of fuel used b supersonic aircraft can be cut off by the opposing force bombing the oil lines from their own country that we relied on to get cheap fuel. It's a bit of a conundrum when the country you're invading is a major source of your fuel. Or if what you need to "win" the conflict is troops and engineers and nurses on the ground to re-establish water, food, and medical supplies after a decade of civil strife.

$500,000 missiles that can hit another supersonic craft at speed is a complete waste of resources in most modern conflicts. The more sophisticated US craft, and their pilots, very effectively cleared the air and the ground of Iraqi and Afghanistani armor and military vehicles in the last few wars. But I'm afraid the lessons of Vietnam and Korea were ignored. Successful air campaigns lead to wars of occupation, and both countries have _centuries_ of experience of outlasting foreign invaders.

Comment: Re: name and location tweeted... (Score 0) 888

Please, please. Don't compare a restaurant to a plane, or bus, or a public street, or a simply invent legal anaglogies. It gets very confusing very fast.

A plane is not a "public place". People need purchased tickets to board, and that ticket can be _revoked_ by the other party. It may be enormously inconvenient, or expensive, or a contract violation, But that has little if nothing to do with law about "public spaces". It doesn't make this situation reasonable.

Comment: Re:This is news? (Score 1) 217

> So you prefer the risk of massive law infringement, including invasive species smuggling, drug running, and terrorism, to a 5% risk that somebody who shouldn't know about Natalie Portman's meal choices finds out whether she's keeping Kosher? No operation on the scale of COINTELPRO could come from the TSA, because the TSA doesn't have the resources to pull it off.

I'm afraid that's a straw man argument. It's not been shown that the massive metadata gathering on USA citizens has been effective against any of those. Where are the convictions? NSA data gathering, in fact, is not supposed to be applied to domestic communications. It's far more useful, and demonstrably so, for internal political abuse. Look at the history of the Stasi for examples of how decades of broad information gathering can be used against moral, law abiding citizens.

Decentralizing the databases, spreading them out, is actually a good goal. Broad, flexible databases with large amounts of data are much easier to steal, and much easier to abuse, than smaller, isolated systems. That's a harsh lesson from decades of security work. And "random searches" are much safer than having it all stored in a central database where it can, and it _will_ be used for political and personal abuse.

Comment: Re:This is news? (Score 4, Insightful) 217

The Nisei were a wholesale incarceration, and was quite public. I was referring more to illegal acts in living memory. The other acts involved the abuse of private information, held in federal hands. It doesn't have to be in a database. The extent of the data and its ease of access _expand_ the risk, not reduce it.

> So we have a database, that will be useful in numerous perfectly legitimate law enforcement operations, and a small risk of it leading to bad things

The "risk" is real. I'm afraid that its abuse is inevitable with so much data concentrated behind closed doors, without any judicial review or enforceable consequences for its misuse.

Comment: Re:Not effective (Score 1) 217

> This kind of mass data collection on everyone is a huge waste of resources.

Compared to the cost of intelligently filtering it down to unpredictably "relevant" information, and only storing that? Picking out only the "relevant" or even "legal to hold" information would be, in espionage terms, a complete waste of time, prone to error and reducing the effectiveness of exactly the sort of personal, detailed information which this helps gather.

I sincerely doubt that the NSA cares about the fine grained accuracy of such bulk data. That's what analysis is for, not filtering. And by collecting bulk information on US citizens, they've gathered an enormous currency in private data that can be provided to the US government without a warrant, or that can be traded with foreign intelligence to gather the information they _are_ chartered to obtain.

Comment: Re:This is news? (Score 5, Insightful) 217

> And we can actually be quite sure it was not widely shared at the TSA, because if it had been some asshole would have stolen his Credit Card number.

Except that they're available, in bulk, to whoever administers that database. And a theft or loss of a backup of that database is hideously unlikely to ever be reported, for "national security reasons" but also to reduce bureaucratic business. And given the history of federal agency personal and political fraud against private citizens, especially politically active citizens, it verifies that they have far too much data, far too easily accessed, available at whim for whatever purpose is desired.

Just because "it's boring text" does not mean it's not incredibly useful for political espionage or frame-ups. Please, do not try to claim that it "wouldn't happen here" The abuse of confidential federal information to harass political opponents certainly _has_ happened here, in the McCarthy hunt for Communits, with the Committee to Re-Elect the President in Nixon's presidential reign whose failures cost Richard Nixon his presidency, and with the Valerie Plame affair during George W. Bush's presidency.

The collection and aggregation of "uninteresting" private information or "metadata" represent risks to political careers and private liberty that will not cease simply because "who would care" or "it's dull". It's hardly dull to be able to use someone's personal information and credit card data to track the nature, times, and location of _every purchase_, and have warrant free monitoring of travels and personal business. And there is, effectively, no oversight of such access because it's the NSA: they operate under a tremendous shroud of national security that prevents rational oversight of such sensitive information.

Comment: Re:Hoping this is not as bad as it sounds (Score 4, Insightful) 272

The _turf_ of bottom dwelling creatures can be quite small, especially of mollusks. Injuring them, or driving away their predators, is likely to have quite large ecological consequences. Even driving away vegetarian creatures from their feeding grounds is likely to interfere with stable ecologies.

Comment: Re:Paper tracked barter (Score 1) 100

by Antique Geekmeister (#47489547) Attached to: New Digital Currency Bases Value On Reputation

Thank you for pointing out those examples. I'll be quite curious to see if they manage to survive even a single generation.

It can take time for the factors I mentioned to destroy a private currency. The "Miracle of Worgl", for example was shut down by the Austrian National Bank. (Avoiding federal taxes and control of the economy is always grounds to shut down private or semi-public experiments.) The Egyptian example had actual backing for the currency, and seems to have been government controlled. I'll acknowledge that "government" and "private" currencies might not have meant the same thing in ancient Egypt.

I'm afraid that I'm not clear on what you mean by the "cathedral economy". The manufacture of cathedrals seems to have been a government sponsored "public work" in the modern sense. Can you point to a better description of what you mean?

The Ithaca and Berkshires cases are interesting, but only several of the dozens, perhaps hundreds of such currencies in US history. Are you aware of any that have lasted even a single generation? I'm aware of several that have _failed_ in other cities, in my lifetime.