Forgot your password?

Comment: Seems like a circular argument (Score 5, Insightful) 267

What takes your freedom away is not surveillance, it's not even the police, it's the law. Surveillance and the police are just tools, they're not the source of the problem. If you want to fight for your freedom, fight the source of the problem.

The law and the tools enforcing the law are parts of the same whole. Neither can co-exist without the other. A law which is not enforced is just a meaningless scribble. A policeman without the authority granted by the law is just a hired gun. Conducting surveillance without legal authority is being a peeping tom.

Fighting the tools is just as important as fighting the source. The tools are what enables the unjust laws. The Prohibition was ultimately ineffective because the masses decided to ignore the law.

Comment: Lets begin at the top (Score 2) 267

Sometimes we must take away a few freedoms to preserve the majority of freedoms.

Sure, let us begin by taking away the government's freedom to legislate such insanity. If the system is rigged and broken, break the system.

This quote from Thomas Jefferson seems apt :-

"God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions, it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. ...And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to the facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure."

Comment: I truly hope not (Score 3, Insightful) 182

by Camael (#47905637) Attached to: Oculus Rift CEO Says Classrooms of the Future Will Be In VR Goggles

I am fairly uncomfortable with the thought of "one of the most transformative platforms for education of all time" being under the direct control of private corporate interests. Whose interest lies in maximizing shareholder profits at the expense of everyone else.

Aside from imposing a royalty/licence fee on every user, having platform control indirectly enables thought control in the form of restricting easy access to the mass population. The publication of material dealing with sensitive but important topics such as religion, abortion, gay rights, racism, terrorism, prostitution, child pornography etc can be curbed simply by denying them access to the platform. We are already seeing this happen to a lesser extent with Facebook (deleted posts, banned accounts etc) and Apple store (all forms of porn).

As an analogous situation, imagine if the creation of (text)books was originally patented. The patent holder would then be able to ensure that any textbooks whose contents disagreed with him do not get published simply by denying a licence to the publisher for that book.

Comment: Re:how about .... (Score 2) 131

by Camael (#47823623) Attached to: Facebook Blamed For Driving Up Cellphone Bills, But It's Not Alone

If you have a limited data-plan, using apps that autoplay/preload huge amount of data is irresponsible.

And you are assuming that all Facebook users have the knowledge, means and expertise to determine which are their "apps that autoplay/preload huge amount of data" or even know their data problems are caused by "apps that autoplay/preload huge amount of data" in the first place.

The average users of Facebook include grandmothers, hollywood idols, truckers, senators - people who may not be technologically inclined.

Come on, be fair.

Comment: Read first? (Score 5, Informative) 131

by Camael (#47823609) Attached to: Facebook Blamed For Driving Up Cellphone Bills, But It's Not Alone

I'd like to pin the blame for this, not on Facebook, but on the people who write the browsers. You can assume that there'll be some stupid site on the internet which will try to waste your bandwidth - but a browser shouldn't permit it to do so. Browsers should never auto-play videos.

If you read TFA:-

A default feature in Facebook’s mobile app that automatically launches videos in users’ newsfeeds has been blamed for devouring mobile phone users’ data and driving up their cellphone bills.

Nothing to do with browsers.

Comment: Intentionally bad design, still appalling (Score 4, Insightful) 131

by Camael (#47823603) Attached to: Facebook Blamed For Driving Up Cellphone Bills, But It's Not Alone

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.

In this case, I believe that it was a deliberate change forced on their users because it will directly benefit Facebook. Auto-play artificially increases the click-thru rate (or whatever method they are using to measure user interaction with ads these days). Facebook can then show these inflated numbers to advertisers to justify their premium rates.

"Hey, you pay more to place video ads on Facebook but its worth it because most (all) of the viewers will see it/click on it!"

This again drives home that to Facebook, we are not its customers, we are it's product.

Comment: Clay pigeon (Score 1) 215

by Camael (#47804859) Attached to: Hidden Obstacles For Delivery Drones

There is no specific law against it, just like there is no law specifically against throwing bowling balls at passing bicyclists. But there are general laws against endangering or harming other people, or intentionally destroying other people's property.

If the drone is flying in my backyard without permission, isn't it trespassing on my premises? Am I therefore not allowed to defend the sanctity and privacy of my home by shooting it out of the sky with extreme prejudice? For all I know, it could be carrying a camera... or a bomb... or a firearm (unlikely I'll grant you, but sadly in today's climate not impossible).

Or to use a clearer example, if I observe that the drone is in danger of crashing into my 4-year-old son and I shoot it out of the sky, I am confident that it would not be held a crime.

My point being that the legal position of drones is far from clear.

Comment: Is this some kind of secret code? (Score 1) 215

by Camael (#47804821) Attached to: Hidden Obstacles For Delivery Drones

I keep getting a naggy feeling that these anonymous posts with over-the-top claims are some kind of coded communication.

Think about it - in today's times when all communication is tapped, saved, processed and filtered by supercomputers, what better way to convey coded information or pass instructions than to post in the open, on public boards, buried in posts adopting the same manner and tone as thousands of other crack-pot posts?

And if the secret is in danger of being let loose, to immediately flood the forum with derisive posts decrying the "conspiracy" -after all, nobody likes looking stupid or gullible.

Or maybe I need more sleep.

Comment: Everyone has something to hide (Score 1) 455

by Camael (#47804773) Attached to: Should police have cameras recording their work at all times?

My opinion is likely to be rather unpopular in these parts, but in the interests of fairness, it needs to be said. I hope those who disagree with me will do me the courtesy of explaining why instead of blindly following the herd.

I disagree that police ought to carry always-on cameras. Police officers are humans too, like you and I and all of us have things we would prefer not to be recorded on video for posterity. Small but embarassing things like digging your nose, loosening your belt after a good meal, private calls with family members, complaining to friends about the boss, sharing scandalous gossip or dirty jokes... the list goes on. Everyone is entitled to their own privacy and carrying a badge should not strip you of these human foibles.

There is a very big difference between the private matters of private citizens and the actions of government employees in the conduct of their public roles. For that reason, always-on police cameras seem quite reasonable, so long as they can be switched off or set aside as soon as the officer goes off duty and resumes being a private citizen.

You appear to be arguing that government employees ought to be monitored to ensure proper conduct of their public roles. Using the same argument, we should then demand that all government employees carry a camera- after all, I want to make sure that the officer who rejected my visa application did so with just cause; ditto the DMMV lady who refused my driver's licence. Doubly so for public officials and politicians of all stripes- after all, the laws they pass or block have the potential to affect the lives of millions. My point being that, if you rely on this ground as justification, it should be applied broadly to all government employees, not just police officers.

From the public's point of view- do we really want to build a more intrusive society than the one we have at present? Bear in mind, the cameras will be recording from the police officer's viewpoint- i.e. the cameras will be recording us. If every officer is a walking CCTV, how much privacy will the public really have? Too much of public space is already being recorded as it is.

My final thought is that all these demands for cameras-on-cops is hysteria and overreaction from the public. There will always be misbehaving police officers and adding cameras on their shoulders will not change that. We should be wary that the proposed solution may be worse than disease, taking the example of how the Patriot Act was born out of a overreaction towards the 911 incident.

Comment: So where is it (Score 3, Interesting) 542

by Camael (#47798509) Attached to: Grand Ayatollah Says High Speed Internet Is "Against Moral Standards"

I am of the same opinion, and I can provide evidence. ...Fast forward to 2013. The Internet is operating at Gb/s speeds in the civilized countries and at Mb/s everywhere else. Most of the content in porn, spam, fake illegal downloads, various scams and viruses.

So where is the "evidence" you claim to have? Your "evidence" seems to have originated from your gut. There is a lot less porn on the internet than you think

The dubious provenance of statistics about porn are well-known inside the tech industry.

"We are aware that a number of statistics are being used in relation to online safety and have concerns over their accuracy," said Nicholas Lansman, secretary general of ISPA, which represents net supply firms. Anyone quoting stats should check their veracity, he said.

"It is vital that any decisions in relation to online safety, like any other policy area, are based on evidence rather than myths and assertions," he added.

Comment: Re:Continuous improvements to IE for Windows 7 (Score 1) 79

by Camael (#47797885) Attached to: Yahoo Stops New Development On YUI

People who can't give up IE might end up having to upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 8.1 with Classic Shell.

Or, they could just stick with the browser and OS that they currently own.

I suspect that most people who can't give up IE fall into 2 broad categories, namely those who need it for work to access some legacy corporate website and those who use IE for convenience because it came with their OS by default.

Neither of these categories need the best and the brightest, and are thus likely to stick with the status quo (i.e. whatever works) unless forced to change. And when forced to change, they are probably going to rely on others to sort it out for them, whether it is their corporate IT department or their computer literate friends/family. In any case, expending cash on a new user unfriendly OS just to keep a browser's functionality is likely a less popular option than upgrading to one of the many free modern browsers available.

Comment: Taking responsibility for yourself (Score 1) 158

by Camael (#47763319) Attached to: A Horrifying Interactive Map of Global Internet Censorship

Yes I chose to watch it and now after watching it I think that there should have been some responsibility taken to remove it.

Or, you could take some responsibility for the bad choice you made. Nobody put a gun to your head and forced you to watch it. Your complaint is the equivalent of a child who wants to ban all use of fire after having burnt himself despite being warned of its dangers.

I also like the way you passed the buck to that mythical "somebody" who you say should have done something about the video. Why don't you do something about it yourself? Besides raging on the internet?

It's shocking how little you value your freedom of choice. Trading away your right to access information (note- I said access, you can always choose not to exercise that right by not clicking on the video) in return for the warm safety blanket of censorship protecting you from discomfort.

And best of all, because of your own personal discomfort, you feel that it is all right to enforce the same restrictive censorship on others who may not be as weak stomached as you, and to strip them of their freedom of choice.

Comment: Re:Not Sharing (Score 1) 182

by Camael (#47762577) Attached to: Uber Has a Playbook For Sabotaging Lyft, Says Report

If you are making a profit from taking someone where they want to go it is no longer sharing it is working.

Exactly, and working is evil. The government should make them stop.

Well now, I could probably make a cushy living transporting immigrants across the border for a hefty payoff, this is working, right?.

Please. Not all work for pay is legal, nor should it be.

Comment: Cheaper, but at what cost? (Score 2) 182

by Camael (#47762545) Attached to: Uber Has a Playbook For Sabotaging Lyft, Says Report

Uber and Lyft are both much cheaper than traditional "regulated" taxis, and this scheme only cost the other company and driver. So as a consumer, why do I care?

Well you should care, because if you get into an accident, you're paying on your own. That's what the family of this poor girl hit by an Uber driver found out.

A key aspect of Uber's business model is that it claims it is not a transportation provider, it does not employ any of the drivers accepting rides on its platform, and it does not accept liability for their actions. The state Public Utilities Commission in September voted to require Uber to get a $1 million per incident commercial liability policy, but Uber — which argues the PUC has no jurisdiction to regulate a communications application — has appealed that ruling.

And frankly I see no justification for Uber not to get insurance coverage for their drivers.

For comparison, look at New York's taxi medallion system. All it has done is raise the entry price to astronomical levels, which leaves the consumer paying outrageous prices and the drivers making very little.

I agree that the NYC regulatory system is rife with abuse, but the fault lies in the execution. All laws are prone to abuse if your have corrupt politicians in charge. You can't use the excuse that laws have the potential to be abused to not pass any laws or regulations.

I would argue instead that there should be some regulation, as least insofar as the public safety and health hazard aspects are concerned. Lets face it- all private enterprises are in the business to make money. One way of doing that is to reduce costs as low as possible, including paying for things like insurance, background checks on drivers etc. If there is no legal compulsion you can bet that they will cut these costs to the bone.

Comment: What say the people on the inside? (Score 2) 207

Have you worked in the MIC? I grew-up in it, served, and went on to do DoD contracting once I got out. Nothing crazy high level classification, run of the mill secret stuff and it has been obvious from the inside for a long, long time. Which is why I got out.

Which raises an interesting question- how do those people working for the NSA and other intel agencies reconcile their conscience with the work that they are doing? All these systems etc need operatives to run, to gather information, to decrypt and analyse etc. This kind of work I would imagine requires people with a more than average level of intelligence and education. Sure they must bear witness to the abuses being perpetrated on their own people. How do they sleep at night?

Even the Stasi operatives at the time when East Germany existed have the comfort of knowing that their cooperation was secured by state sanctioned penalties. These NSA people have no such excuse.

What this country needs is a good five dollar plasma weapon.