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Comment Re:Status was NOT divulged, only email identities (Score 1) 65

The newsletter is intended for people using its HIV and other sexual health services, and gives details of treatments and support.

This strongly implies there's some medical issue with all the recipients of this e-mail newsletter. After all, why would someone be subscribed to this who is not HIV positive or has some other affliction? And if you read the article, their full names were included in the list, as is common with e-mail. Frequent gaffe or not, this is a huge breach of privacy for those involved.

I'm curious... does anyone know if there a way to create a mailing list in Outlook (or whatever they used) such that it can ONLY be sent via BCC (at least without taking obvious steps)? If not, why in the world is that not a feature? If you're requiring an employee to manually choose the correct field (which typically isn't the default field) every time the mailer is sent out, then it's only a matter of time before they get it wrong, and the whole damned list gets sent to everyone. We see this blunder being made all the time. You'd think someone would have found a solution other than telling the operator "don't be an idiot", because *everyone* makes mistakes from time to time.

Comment Re:Marketplace Justice (Score 1) 107

I'm starting to believe that we should simply not allow any internet connected consumer device to be sold without the ability to automatically patch it's own software / firmware, and a clear commitment from the company up front as to how long they'll continue to support it. If a company is not willing to add that capability to the device, then it's not secure enough to be sending or receiving internet data. We don't let toy cars drive on the freeway. Maybe we should think of internet-enabled devices in the same way.

Maybe devices like Google's OnHub router are the way we need to go (ignoring who it's from for a moment). The device pings the mothership and automatically updates itself as needed. There's nothing all that difficult about auto-patching firmware if the devices is already internet enabled and has flash-able firmware. It's expecting too much of normal users to know which of a thousand models of hardware they have, and to know if they need to patch it because of a critical vulnerability. I mean, it's apparently too much for many supposed professional IT departments. How can we expect that of normal consumers?

I really wish the industry would get off its ass and start taking responsibility for things like this, but it's just not happening. It's more profitable to just throw some half-assed features on there and put the "watch from anywhere on the internet" bulletpoint on the box. Unfortunately, they're going to keep this sort of nonsense up until enough people start calling for legislation and regulation. Getting the government involved is always a mixed blessing.

Comment Re:Idiots. (Score 1) 293

I don't have a DVR set up because I don't have cable (and I have no idea what a NUC is). One of the biggest draws for streaming is the incredible convenience of the experience. It seems like a PITA to have to pre-record shows to simply watch them later.

Honestly, I'm not desperate enough for their content to go through that much trouble. And I don't want to pay them for that service, which is an implicit enforcement of their business model.

Comment Re:And at the same time (Score 4, Informative) 98

The real issue is that the patent pool for h265 is getting greedy, and planning to charge a *lot* more than h264 use, and in more circumstances. All these companies have an incentive to create a next-generation codec that can be licensed for no cost, because they're either providing platforms for this content or streaming content themselves.

So, what you're seeing here is a natural market reaction to the overreach of the h265 pool, and it makes sense to combine their efforts and technologies to deliver a single superior codec that everyone can use. If they follow through with their promise of an open codec, it's definitely going to be a big win for these companies AND consumers. Moreover, as a purely pragmatic matter, it will allow more streaming for less bandwidth overall, something that's also important for many users with data caps.

Lawsuits are almost inevitable, simply because they're threatening to destroy a potentially lucrative patent pool's effectiveness. Fortunately, this is a talented group with some legal and financial muscle behind it, so I think they have a good shot at succeeding.

Comment Re:regular old intelligence (Score 4, Insightful) 50

The actual solution is "stop spewing so much shit into the air", but that's hard to do and very expensive. Temporarily shutting down a smokestack here or there where the problem is worst isn't going to do anything substantial. This is about feel-good solutions, so the Chinese politicians can claim they're doing something, and IBM can get a contract.

I'm trying to figure out what good does it do someone to get a 72-hour forecast of how crappy the air will be? Can local residents stop breathing for a day or two until it clears up? Can they not go in to work and live in a filtered bubble at home? Uh... right. Instead, what will happen is the government will shut down nearby powerplants and limit gas-powered vehicle traffic, so those poor residents will have crappy air AND will be inconvenienced at the same time.

Color me skeptical. I wish them well in cleaning things up, but it's going to take more than a smart computer to make that happen.

Comment Re:Epix was one reason they were forced to stream. (Score 4, Insightful) 293

It's just the city of Seattle that's screwed up. The suburbs actually outside the city itself (where I live, and where MS is located) has FIOS broadly deployed. My understanding is that it has to do with Seattle's own rules - there's a huge amount of entrenched bureaucracy and crappy infrastructure in place that essentially prevents competitors from coming in and upgrading. Naturally, large businesses (like Amazon) can simply bypass the mess with commercial-grade connections. It's apparently just the consumers that have it bad.

Comment Lua (Score 1) 427

"Important" tends to depend on the industry. For videogame programmers, I'd submit that Lua might be a candidate. While C++ reigns supreme for game engine and client code, and C# has become fairly common for tools programming, Lua has proven to be extremely popular as a plug-in scripting language, as it's free, lightweight, easy to embed in game clients, reasonably powerful for it's small size, and (being written in C) completely portable.

It's famously used by World of Warcraft, of course. At LucasArts, it replaced the SCUMM language in the Monkey Island games (note in the game the SCUMM bar was replaced by the Lua bar). It's also used by many other game developers, both prior and since.

Comment Re:Expect major BIAS (Score 1) 491

That's because the Air Force likes "air-force" missions, meaning sexy fighters, massive bombers, and nuke-delivering missiles. Ground support roles aren't sexy, just practical. That being said, the A-10 is actually getting old, and could use a capable replacement. I have my doubts that the F-35 in this role, but at this point, I'm not sure what choice there is.

It's sort of ironic that the big push for the F-35 was a "less expensive, jack-of-all-trades" aircraft when it's pretty clear at this point that the plane is "way too expensive" and more of a "master-at-none" at this point. As far as I've seen, every time this sort of procurement strategy is tried, it's been an utter disaster (McNamera and his Tactical Fighter Experimental, which resulted in the unspectacular F-111). The only reason this *hasn't* been a complete disaster is because of the ungodly amount of money we've shoved into it, so instead of a technological disaster, it's simply turned into a financial disaster. Maybe we'll get a reasonable weapons system out of this eventually, but "cost-effective" has certainly been replaced by "too big to fail" at this point.

Comment Re:It's profitable (Score 4, Insightful) 259

What we really need is to put some pressure on advertising companies to stop allowing anyone to run unvetted, arbitrary Javscript code in served advertisements. How stupidly dangerous is that? It's like using a flamethrower to take down a hornet's nest. Yes, it works, but it's a ridiculous amount of overkill, and can be insanely dangerous if pointed at the wrong target. It's in the advertising agencies own interest to clean up it's act. At some point, most people are going to figure out that it's simply too dangerous to run a web browser without noscript or an ad blocker.

Honestly, the only way I can think of putting enough pressure on them is for as many people as possible to install ad-blockers. Once they get the hint that they need to back down, they can come up with some more creative solutions. For instance, introduce a specialized tag in HTML that allows the display of a static image, embedded links, and some anonymous token to help count unique visitors, but NO JAVASCRIPT. It's the notion of running arbitrary script that's so insanely dangerous. Plus, a tag like this would help to ensure that ads don't misbehave, like popping up, animating, or playing audio or video.

Or, ad agencies can be more responsible and run curated ads, with only vetted Javascript in pre-packaged modules, rather than letting anyone execute code from anywhere in the world. There are solutions out there, but no agency wants to be the first to tie their own hands. Honestly, I don't care at this point. It's their fault it's come to this in the first place. Something's got to change.

Comment Re:It can't. (Score 5, Interesting) 105

There's something I've never figured out about this particular theory. All life, even some sort of "patient zero" alien life, had to arise from non-organic substances somewhere, right? If it can happen once, then it should be able to happen any number of times given a set of similar conditions. Given the size of the universe, and even our own galaxy, that's like to be a *lot* of places.

As such, why would anyone think it's more plausible for a chunk of life to hitch a ride on some piece of space debris, and then survive re-entry on a coincidentally habitable planet on which it can flourish... than for life to have sprung into existence here, where obviously conditions were optimal for it (or at least life as we know it)?

I have to wonder if the enthusiasm for this theory is partially based on the admittedly exciting prospect that we could be the descendants of exotic alien lifeforms rather than some homegrown slime mold.

"Don't think; let the machine do it for you!" -- E. C. Berkeley