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Comment Re:Bulk surveillance, what is it good for? (Score 1) 128

> If so, what is it for? Blackmailing politicians? Blackmailing the wealthy and powerful?

Time and again we see that anything they have the *capability* to do, they *are* doing. This includes the CIA spying on Congress.


They got caught with their hand in the cookie jar that time, but what's to say that similar things aren't still happening? Merely their assurances, and how much are those worth?

Based on what we know about bulk data collection, our intelligence apparatus does seem to have the *capability* to influence the the legislative and executive branches in inappropriate ways. Based on their past behavior I feel like we can't just dismiss that possibility as crazy.

There's nothing so special about America that we cannot suffer from corruption, and we have built the technological toolbox to enable it.

I feel like a lunatic writing this down, but "they" truly could be manipulating our elected officials.

Comment Re:unique id (Score 1) 214

In my state you need to purchase a special parking pass to enter state parks. You can get the pass when you register your car, or you can buy it at a sporting goods store like a fishing license.

To buy the pass at a retail location, you must give the clerk your social security number. Why does my state government require my SSN for a parking pass... and who thought that a system requiring a Big 5 clerk to handle private information was a good idea? It's absurd.

Comment Already got burned with the Intel Compute Stick (Score 1) 224

I really want to like these products but my first foray into the field was a disaster. The Intel Compute Stick was my first cheap-o headless "full Windows" PC and it was total garbage.

It was so slow that installing Windows Updates took for-ev-er. And worst of all, in its shipping configuration, it just failed to install most updates. You'd watch it grind away for 30 minutes, throw an error, reboot, and then uninstall the partially complete update.

If a computer can't even successfully keep up with Microsoft's recommended patches without crapping itself, it isn't very useful.

I got some moderate use out of the Compute Stick by disabling WU entirely, but then its built in wifi started to fail, and then the provided 2 A USB power supply died, and then I gave up on it.

Comment Re:Bull (Score 2) 235

And this is why I fear that parts suppliers like HK are going to end up on a hit list eventually.

Trying to regulate radio controlled models is going to be about as hard as regulating any other dirt cheap consumer technology. For the regulation to be effective, it's going to have to be extremely heavy-handed. Then we'll end up in an endless cat-and-mouse game of workarounds.

2-5 years from now your HobbyKing multirotor controller board will be sold as a generic robotics gyrostabilizer board, with no mention of flight. It will also be delivered without firmware. You'll have to find an illegal overseas torrent of the firmware file you need, and you'll have to flash it yourself. At this point you'll have committed multiple felonies, like every other person at your hobbyist flying field, but since "they" only go after the biggest offenders (and people that they need to charge with something), you'll probably be fine. Probably.

Except once in a while, you won't be fine, because the eye of Sauron will turn to you. Then we'll get a news story about an "unjust" drone bust and it'll be discussed here.

"14 Year Old Inventor Builds Unregistered Drone, Arrested by FBI"

This story will happen when a kid does the exact same stuff that every other hobbyist does, but he flies his technically illegal drone too close to someone fussy. So maybe the kid's drone scares someone's show horse in their yard, and the horse owner calls the FBI, and then the kid gets jammed up, and we talk about it here and hope it won't happen to us.

Comment Re:Social media (Score 2) 307

I am an introvert without a Facebook account (or Twitter, or Instawhatever). And I love social media.

I kind of want to be left alone, or rather, I want to choose when and how I interact with people. With most people seemingly socializing through Facebook, it is a snap to opt out of unwanted social pressures and small talk if you aren't also a user.

Facebook casts a long shadow. It is easy to disappear in it.

Comment Re:"Infringing"? (Score 1) 215

> No, not from the US.

Now your post makes more sense... It sounded like a European wonderland, and it was.

Yeah, we have nothing like the cheap standardized bank-to-bank systems you have. If you want to send money, you use a check, and put your magic banking numbers out there on a piece of paper... Or you use a 3rd party system like PayPal.

Technically, that isn't 100% true. We're not totally stone age... Maybe bronze age. Banks often have a bill payment system you can use, and the bank handles making a transfer to the utility company. It is not something you can invoke manually and arbitrarily, because it's a big pain to set up. Also, many targets are not set up to receive electronic payments, and so the bank will print and mail a check. It's also not an option for private party transfers.

WRT checks--elsewhere in the thread people had posted that not only do they never need to use checks, their ATMs had stopped accepting checks for deposit. That also was probably not happening in the US.

Comment Re:"Infringing"? (Score 1) 215

Do you live in the US? I have never seen anything like "e-invoicing" used for private parties. If I want to send money to someone else's account from your bank (not via 3rd party) the options are a check, or a "wire transfer" which has high fees and takes days to process. My banks and CUs simply don't have another option. I wish they did.

People on the thread are saying their ATMs actually reject checks... Never heard of anything like that in the US.

Comment Re:"Infringing"? (Score 1) 215

> Money going to relatives is often in the form of a check for me, since a lot of my family is tech-averse.

Even if they are not tech-averse, how do you easily get money to someone, as a private party, without a check? At least in the US, at any bank or CU I have used, there is no practical way to send money electronically person to person. A "wire transfer" costs $40 in fees and takes days to clear.

You can use PayPal but then there are fees.

You can use Bitcoin I guess but that is still more than a bit of a pain in the ass if you aren't already a regular user.

Comment Re:Inevitable escalation of a broken philosophy (Score 1) 609

I may have misunderstood you. I thought your original post was saying "Americans are more likely to be shot by their police because the police fear everyone they meet is armed." Are you instead saying that the police shouldn't be armed?

Anyway, we have a weird cultural issue here, where we let these things happen, and then even as half the people take to the streets, the other half cheer on the authorities. How we treat ourselves has become politicized.

Comment Re:Inevitable escalation of a broken philosophy (Score 1) 609

Thank you for your thoughtful post.

I believe you are conflating two different issues, police use of excessive force and private ownership of weapons.

I am sure that if one were to carefully analyze the situation, some of the deaths caused by the police are due to the fact that Americans are more likely to be armed. But I do not believe that is the exclusive or even majority cause of so much violence by our police.

We see a lot of news stories about people dying in chokeholds and the like. The police also seem to shoot our dogs. They use a SWAT team when it isn't necessarily called for.

Those things aren't happening because someone might be carrying a gun.

There is a separate issue--how we allow ourselves to be policed. And we're not doing a good job of setting boundaries.

The hardest part of climbing the ladder of success is getting through the crowd at the bottom.