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Comment: Re:I'm shocked. (Score 4, Interesting) 188

by Frobnicator (#48611429) Attached to: Apple Wins iTunes DRM Case

i'd be surprised if apple didn't win the case.

At the jury level this is expected. The appeal was expected either way. And in the longer term this may turn out differently.

Anti-trust concerns usually do benefit the consumer in the short term. And as the article points out, the jury specifically wrote that the features have an immediate benefit to the consumer.

Usually anti-trust problems are not immediately bad for the consumer. In the short term the consumer sees a lower price, easier access, and other conveniences.

In the long term the market ends up with monopolies and oligopolies, a loss of vibrancy, a slowdown in innovation, less desire to follow expensive advances, and worse customer experiences. Think of your local telco and cable companies as prime examples.

I expect that like so many other technical cases the jury's verdict will be overturned on appeal because juries in the US rarely understand the actual law. While criminal law is usually pretty straightforward for a lay jury, things like IP law and business law are often miscommunicated or misunderstood when handed to a jury of random citizens.

Comment: Re: PRIVATE encryption of everything just became.. (Score 4, Interesting) 379

But cloud is great, right? They told me cloud is great!

Yes, cloud is great as a convenience for you.

It is also great as a convenience for NSA and other agencies. The text of the bill allows that anything that was encrypted can be kept indefinitely. If your web site says HTTPS then it is fair game for permanent governmental storage.

Also, they can retain it forever for a number of reasons:

From the bill now on its way to the President's desk: "(3)(B) A covered communication shall not be retained in excess of 5 years unless ... (ii) the communication is reasonably believed to constitute evidence of a crime ... (iii) the communication is enciphered or reasonably believed to have a secret meaning; (iv) all parties to the communication are reasonably believed to be non-United States persons;"

#2 should be troubling. Does your communication (which is not limited to just email, but also includes web pages and any other data) have any evidence of a crime? Evidence that you downloaded a movie or software from a warez site, or looked at porn as a minor, or violated any of the policy-made-crimes that even the federal government has declared they are not countable? With an estimate of over 300,000 'regulations-turned-crime', plus laws that incorporate foreign laws (the Lacey Act's criminalization of anything done "in violation of State or foreign law"), pretty much anything you do probably violates some law somewhere in the world. Better preserve it just in case somebody eventually wants to prosecute you for that crime someday.

#3 refers back to a vague definition of "enciphered" that does not just mean encryption. The "secret meaning" could be as simple as data inside a protocol, Who is to say that the seemingly random bytes "d6 0d 9a 5f 26 71 dd a7 04 31..." used as part of a data stream are really not an encrypted message? Better record it just in case.

And of course #4, the law has a careful wording about communications between "non-United States persons". Considering the "internet of things", all those devices talking to other devices are not communications between United States persons. It was your camera (a non-United States person) communicating with a data warehouse (a non-United States person), so better exempt that from the 5-year retention policy as well.

Comment: Re:PRIVATE encryption of everything just became... (Score 2) 379

PRIVATE encryption of everything just became mandatory.

Go look back at the bill, start at page 22.

Observe that unencrypted communications can be retained for five years. But any encrypted communications can be kept indefinitely.

Also note that the law doesn't say anything about who enciphered it nor about if they are able to decipher it. If it was encrypted at any point along the journey it qualifies for unlimited retention.

Comment: Re:No (Score 1) 545

by Frobnicator (#48567323) Attached to: Should IT Professionals Be Exempt From Overtime Regulations?

The last company I worked for gave us comp time in lieu of OT.

That is another classic way to skirt the law, and is often done innocently as a lack of understanding.

Employers can use comp time in some circumstances, but it must be at the overtime rate. That is, if you were at the 1.5x rate they need to compensate you 1.5x the hours, if you were at the 2.0x rate they need to compensate you 2.0x the hours.

Many employers will compensate the hours 1:1. They cannot simply shift the hours from one week to the next and tell you "don't show up for x hours". It needs to be "don't show up for (1.5*x) hours" or whatever your proper overtime rate is.

Comment: Re:No (Score 5, Informative) 545

by Frobnicator (#48535109) Attached to: Should IT Professionals Be Exempt From Overtime Regulations?

For programmers in CA, normally they are non-exempt, although I'm sure many skirt around it. My understanding is if you want a favorable equity package, you'll accept exempt status. If you want an hourly wage and a life, you declare non-exempt.

Both the Department of Labor and the courts disagree with your assessment.

The actual job duties themselves, not the job title, not the method of payment (hourly vs salary), and not the contract, determine if an individual worker is exempt from overtime rules.

This has been challenged time and time again in the courts. The concept of a "working foreman" is often mentioned since management is exempt from overtime. If the individual can show that at least half the time is spent on non-management tasks they are not exempt. If you spend 49% of your time or less doing management tasks you are not exempt. Even if your job title is "Managing Director", even if your contract calls you an exempt worker.

Other companies frequently fight it claiming that since they pay on an annual salary basis rather than an hourly basis they don't track it and therefore don't have to pay. These arguments lose.

Many companies like to skirt around the law since it saves money. Many companies (wrongly) claim that workers on an annual salary are exempt from overtime. Many companies (wrongly) specify that a position is exempt from overtime when legally it should not be. Even if you are paid on a regular salary instead of hourly the company is still obligated by FLSA overtime regulations.

If in doubt, make a phone call to the department of labor or whatever your state's equivalent is. They can ask a few questions and determine your status. Businesses violating the law are generally forced to pay back wages to the individuals and back taxes to the government. Since government really hates to miss tax money they tend to enforce this whenever discovered.

Comment: Re:Then demanding decryption will not be "reasonab (Score 2) 446

by Frobnicator (#48509691) Attached to: 18th Century Law Dredged Up To Force Decryption of Devices

Google and Apple can help them by making the encryption breakable.

Nope, that battle has already been fought. That would constitute compelled speech.

They can compel the company to provide information (such as source code) for their current data. Subpoenas have been doing that for decades.

They can compel the company to help them perform certain research.

They can even use NSLs to compel the company to intercept certain communications.

But at least so far, they cannot compel the company to modify their product to become defective.They still need to do that themselves, commonly by intercepting shipments or less commonly modifying chips inside the supply chain. Note that both routes are considered clandestine, they don't compel the business to intentionally release a faulty product, instead they just sabotage the results.

Comment: Re:Sony chose to wage war against North Korea (Score 0) 81

by Frobnicator (#48509475) Attached to: FBI: Wiper Malware Has Korean Language Packs, Hard Coded Targets

... well-known Hollywood UBER-zionist specifically designed as a psy-op against North Korea and its leadership. ... Sony was ONLY allowed to buy its way into Hollywood when its Japanese supremo's agreed to allow Israel-friendly managers ... their desired propaganda directions ... Japan has been a servant state to Israel ... was FORCED to introduce sanctions ... Saudi Arabia and Egypt (powers in the US sphere of control) ... Sony's vicious attack against North Korea ... serve their zionist masters on their knees. ... Sony is still loathed for daring to think it has a place in Hollywood. ... Most first class cyber-attacks emanate from Israel ... What you 'earn' while you remain ON YOUR KNEES is worthless- a lesson Japan is going to learn the hard way

You started the troll so well with your first paragraph.

At least the remaining portion was fun to read. I'm not quite sure how Sony would need to sell out to Isreal before joining Hollywood, that one is confusing. The claims that the NSA is secretly beholden to Israeli Military was fun. The claim that Saudi Arabia and Egypt are under US control made me especially laugh.

Thanks for the entertainment.

Comment: Re:The real reason? (Score 1) 187

by Frobnicator (#48487665) Attached to: Music Publishers Sue Cox Communications Over Piracy

Common Carrier.

Nope, they have fought for decades to avoid that label. The were given the label "Information Service" and that makes all the difference in the world. That enables them to issue poison packets when they suspect things they don't like, to cancel services to people, to double-dip and sometimes triple-dip for communications as seen in cases like Netflix, and more. It has helped them evade lawsuits about discriminatory service on the basis of customers potentially being slightly more expensive, and being able to evade regulation time and time again.

Even as recently as this spring, declaring that since they are not common carriers they can discriminate allowing ISPs to charge Netflix on one side plus also charging customers on the other side.

Reclassification from "Information Service" to "Common Carrier" would be a transformative step for the net neutrality debate, dramatically forwarding the movement. But it would also come with an enormous amount of regulation and the industry really does not want that.

Comment: Re:All of this is extralegal (Score 4, Insightful) 187

by Frobnicator (#48487603) Attached to: Music Publishers Sue Cox Communications Over Piracy

I hope it goes forward.

Not because I want the recording industry to shut them down, but because common carriers are exempt from the responsibility over their traffic. That is really the best solution for ISPs so they are no longer liable for the content that travels over the wire.

ISPs getting reclassified as common carriers is a major step toward net neutrality, as common carriers are not allowed to discriminate over what they carry.

Comment: Re:How did your senator vote? (Score 1) 445

by Frobnicator (#48420873) Attached to: Republicans Block Latest Attempt At Curbing NSA Power

That's cool... is there some sort of OKCupid interface to it yet, so you can see which representatives match your interests the best, and alerts you when they vote against what you say you're interested in?

Bills are not that simple. By the time they are entered into THOMAS for tracking they have already been through many different groups. Lots of fun little additions have been made. Also by design it is extremely difficult to track down who added what and when; there is no button to track down the details of an individual line like you get with version control; it becomes "these were attached by someone" rather than "Sen. Johnson added line 47 requiring additional oversight, then Sen Smith modified line 47 to remove the oversight". Common citizens do not see the change log, they are only allowed to see specific checkpoints.

Critically, these are NOT little 10-line precise changes. Instead, this is a bill that adds some limits to NSA spying, and a bill that re-authorizes the patriot act, and a bill that gives the Attorney General the ability to rubber stamp "emergency production" of business records acquisition without a judge, and a bill that grants immunity ("liability protection") to those who hand over records without a court order, and a bill that pays people under the table for giving information to the government if they bypass the courts and just hand it over, and a bill that allows the DNI and AG to bypass the requirement to declassify information, that is, a bill to decrease transparency and remove important data from federal reports. And more.

It is 7000 words and 46 pages. Many similar bills exceed 100 pages. Some bills, especially those with critical financial items, grow into the thousand page range with all kinds of ugly growths attached.

Hooking that up with an OKCupid style is quite difficult. Did they reject it because of the NSA spying portion? Did they reject it because of the pen register changes? Did they reject it because of the declassification portion? Did they reject it because of the additional ability to bypass the courts? Did they reject it because it re-authorizes the USA PATRIOT act?

Trying to match it more in an OKCupid style, you may really like the beautiful eyes, but find the cluster of moles and cracked teeth rather ugly, the personal history of high school dropout insufficient, the three aborted teenage pregnancies and collection of STD's rather bothersome, and the extensive criminal history and drug additions are not exactly spouse material ... but those eyes, they are really quite lovely.

Comment: Re:So basically (Score 1) 445

by Frobnicator (#48420667) Attached to: Republicans Block Latest Attempt At Curbing NSA Power

It curtailed some domestic spying, but extended it in other areas, and also extended the PATRIOT Act. My guess is you would have criticized him if he voted in favor of it as well.

That's the issue with so many of these bills. Politicians start with an important bill that is very likely to pass, and then attach all kinds of unpalatable features to it.

They are not little 10-line precise changes to policy. This particular bill is 7000 words in a 46-page PDF. Often they are in bills that are tens of thousands of words, sometimes hundreds of thousands of words, and hundreds of pages in length.

It is easy to headline "${PoliticalParty} objects to bill with ${Feature}" but to not mention the fact that the bill included several hundred additional features.

You've got a headline "Thirsty person rejects glass of water", but buried deep down in the details you will read the water is yellow and brown and came from the toilet. The thirsty person will turn that drink down and wait for something a little more palatable.

Comment: Re:Silly article, waste of time (Score 1) 335

Well there's the crux of their whole flawed argument. They're conflating "correct decision" with "best outcome" possible. Human judgement and morals don't work on what will result in the best outcome, but what will result in the most reasonable outcome.

Very true. Also, different humans have different versions of "most reasonable outcome".

Many deaths through history are caused by quite conflicting goals. War, obviously, is different groups killing over conflicting outcomes. Mafia/cartel/gang/etc kill to get their own best outcomes even though other groups strongly reject the premise.

Comment: Re:Or just practicing for an actual job (Score 1) 320

by Frobnicator (#48373325) Attached to: Duke: No Mercy For CS 201 Cheaters Who Don't Turn Selves In By Wednesday

Would using frameworks make you a cheater? Would copying a very know pattern deem you a cheater? ... If you want to stomp out cheaters, come up with problem domains with very unique and strange processes that wouldn't be found in the wild.

The class is algorithms and data structures. The entire point is to learn the internals of common structures. The student needs to write and learn about linked lists, not learn how to use a linked list library. The student needs to write and learn about trees, not learn how to use a tree library. Learn about and implement several different sorting algorithms, not how to use a sorting library.

A student's role is different than a job in industry. A student is attempting to learn the material. They need to learn how the internals work. Many of these algorithms and data structures are used all over inside standard libraries. They are so common that every professional should know them flat-out. For a class about the algorithms and data structures they need to write their own tools. For a class about something else or in the industry they can use a library if they want.

It is the same reason we teach kids times tables and make them do long division rather than just hand them a calculator in the third grade. When the study is covering mastery of the material and understand how things are manipulated they need to do it by hand. This way the student will actually develop the ability to use the knowledge when they need it.

Comment: Re:Yeah, right... (Score 2) 459

by Frobnicator (#48361841) Attached to: Black IT Pros On (Lack Of) Racial Diversity In Tech

Argh, didn't proofread my edits and two links broke the gender gap paragraph. Forgot that greater than and less then signs get treated as html blocks and get eaten.

From various reports the first one in a tab I closed, the second one like this we get stats. Poor mothers, UNDER $25K, usually stay at home. About 45% work. Once the individuals in the family make between $30K to $60K each it is common for both to work, with 77% of mothers in the workforce. But once they enter the "highly paid" range of over $90K of husband's salary the mothers start to tend to stay home, and once the husbands hit $150K it drops back to 43% of the women working. A large part of the gender gap in tech jobs comes from worker choice, not employer bias.

Comment: Re:Yeah, right... (Score 4, Interesting) 459

by Frobnicator (#48361757) Attached to: Black IT Pros On (Lack Of) Racial Diversity In Tech

Well, according to government statistics, the "Percent Black or African-American" represent about 7.1% of 2011 graduates and about 7.4% of the workforce, and both are trending upwards. Compare the roughly 7.4% of black computer programmers with 10.8% of the general population. So a smaller percent of the population get the training, but those who get the training are not discriminated against for hiring purposes. (Not talking about wages, just hiring diversity.)

From the same report with a 10-year granularity, females make up about 33.9% of the 2011 graduates and about 26.6% of the computer programming workforce. Women are also making up an increasing number of the workforce that changes based on age. The report notes "these estimates could be consistent with an age effect. That is, when women are young, they are more likely to be employed in STEM, but as they age, they move out of STEM employment." The trend lines show 35-year-old females in the group as a growing population, with the growth dropping rapidly by age groups. Compare that with the 48% females in the general national workforce. So in hiring diversity women do make up a lower number by diversity but it is largely by their own choice rather than hiring discrimination.

One of the real problems with the gender gap is that many times it is a sign of wealth or poverty -- that is, in various demographics of wealthy households and poor households women are not part of the workforce. It forms a bell-shaped curve. Poor mothers ($90K) the line starts to rapidly drop again. So splitting out the numbers, if the individuals are making $30K-$50K then often the mother is educated and also the mother works. But once the family has highly paid workers, with the husband highly paid making >$90K then the women again tend to stay home with children rapidly trending back down to about 43% working once you've crossed the roughly $150K husband's income. Since the tech field is very highly paid that puts the gender gap as a voluntary choice, not an involuntary hiring discrimination.

Based both on what I have seen and also what I have read in various reports, the problem (if there is one) is at the source end of the education pipeline. When it comes to "Black or African American" demographics the number of graduates and number of workers is at parity. When it comes to females, the numbers are that women who choose to stick with the field are readily employed and that many women leave as they age at a rate far more rapid than other fields.

The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not "Eureka!" (I found it!) but "That's funny ..." -- Isaac Asimov