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Comment: Re:I, Robot from a programmers perspective (Score 1) 162

by Jason Levine (#47920179) Attached to: Developing the First Law of Robotics

Part of it was that and part of it was user error. In Asimov's stories, users would give robots orders, but how you phrased the order could affect the robot's performance. A poorly phrased order would result in a "malfunctioning" robot (really, a robot that was doing its best to obey the order given).

Comment: Approved Lists? (Score 5, Insightful) 236

by Jason Levine (#47916439) Attached to: AT&T Proposes Net Neutrality Compromise

So would AT&T's proposal let you "fast lane" any site? Or just a select group of major sites that AT&T has "approved"?

AT&T's idea would still allow for commercial deals between companies. But they would have to be arranged as the result of one or more subscriber requests; the ISPs couldn't offer fee-based prioritization just because they wanted to.

Oh, I see. So it's not really "I want X to be fast-laned" and then it is. It's "I want X to be fast-laned", therefore AT&T might possible approach X and demand fast lane payments. This way AT&T can pass the blame for the fast lane charges to the customers (who will also pay for those charges via increased fees for those sites) and can still pocket the money. Also, they are guaranteed that Netflix and the other Internet video companies would top the lists. Just the sites that they themselves would have targeted for extortion... I mean, fast lane payments.

Comment: Re:Spoilers (Score 1) 131

by Jason Levine (#47916391) Attached to: The FCC Net Neutrality Comment Deadline Has Arrived: What Now?

Except that 99.9999% of businesses can't make a decision. They can say they support Network Neutrality, but they aren't in a position to do anything other than make statements (and, perhaps, talk to politicians about it). ISPs are in a position to either preserve Network Neutrality or trash it in favor of "pay us or your traffic slows down." Government can mandate that this kind of situation isn't acceptable. Therefore, the only acceptable options for consumers (and 99.9999% of businesses) are for ISPs to preserve Network Neutrality on their own or have the government preserve it for them. I'd prefer option #1, but given how the ISPs are drooling over money they'd make using "fast lanes", I fear option #2 will be needed.

Comment: Re:Spoilers (Score 1) 131

by Jason Levine (#47914745) Attached to: The FCC Net Neutrality Comment Deadline Has Arrived: What Now?

You can call it fraud and I'd agree with you. The problem is that most of the ISPs are monopolies or, at best, duopolies. If you want to a wired broadband connection to the Internet, you NEED to go through them. They are also big, powerful companies with plenty of lawyers to tie up fraud cases in court and lots of lobbyists to make sure the rules are written to favor themselves.

The end game of all of this isn't so much to cripple the Internet as it is to profit off of it. They see companies making a lot of money off "the Internet" and they feel that they are owed some of that money because those companies are making money off of their (the ISPs') customers. Of course, a pizza place doesn't owe money to Verizon because some of Verizon's customers use their Verizon phones to call the pizza place and order a pie. Still, the big ISPs see others making this money and want a chunk,

Moreover, they feel threatened. Internet video isn't killing off the ISPs' own video offerings, but the potential is there. They aren't stupid and so want to kill off Internet video before it becomes a threat.

When you combine a series of giant organizations with greed and seeing their existing profit centers threatened, you get a dangerous (for consumers) combination.

Comment: Re:Welp. (Score 1) 265

by Jason Levine (#47912529) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What To Do After Digitizing VHS Tapes?

I took the "movies" reference to be "home movies." For example, a movie of your son walking for the first time. If my house burned down and I lost all of my possessions (we're assuming all family members got out just fine), what I would mourn the loss of most would be all of the photos and videos of my kids that were on our external hard drive.

I had a camera stolen from me at the end of a trip. Insurance got me a new digital camera (much nicer than the stolen one, even). However, the 100+ photos that were on the camera when it was stolen were lost forever. If given the chance, I would have happily handed the thief our camera if he had let me remove the memory card from it. (Now, when I travel, I backup photos as I go and will swap out the cards during flights just in case.)

Comment: Re:Wow (Score 1) 265

by Jason Levine (#47912441) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What To Do After Digitizing VHS Tapes?

On one hand, yes, you'll get tons of hits on Google for "long term video tape backup."

On the other hand, many of those hits will be old forum posts whose authors' experience is unknown, companies advertising their services (quality of which is unknown), etc. Posting on Slashdot ensures that your question will be answered by a group of experiences folks who know what they are talking about and have likely done just this sort of thing.

Comment: Re:Spoilers (Score 1) 131

by Jason Levine (#47912365) Attached to: The FCC Net Neutrality Comment Deadline Has Arrived: What Now?

Because ISPs would immediately accept these limitations and then work behind the scenes to allow relaxing of the rules - or would flaunt them openly and get mere slaps on the wrist. Look at what happened when Verizon was under contract (having received taxpayer money) to wire an entire state with high speed access. They didn't do it and, when brought to task, argued that their wireless network counted as "wiring the state." The state government bought it and declared that Verizon lived up to their end of the contract.

The same is true for merger conditions on Comcast-Time Warner. Comcast will agree to the conditions and then will start working behind the scenes to ensure that they don't actually have to follow them.

Comment: Re:Spoilers (Score 5, Insightful) 131

by Jason Levine (#47912317) Attached to: The FCC Net Neutrality Comment Deadline Has Arrived: What Now?

The problem is, right now, we have the choice of letting the ISPs decide their own Network Neutrality policies or letting the FCC decide it.

If the ISPs decide it, you can be sure that they would enact Fast Lanes and Slow Lanes. Any content that competes with them (e.g. Internet Video Services) would get tossed into the slow lane and would be unusable unless the service paid the ISPs big money for fast lane access. As the ISPs are monopolies/duopolies, customers couldn't switch to another ISP. Requiring people to move to a different part of the country for Internet access isn't reasonable. Especially since there would be no guarantee that the ISP whose area they moved into wouldn't either get bought out or wouldn't go fast lane themselves. Letting the ISPs decide is effectively kissing Network Neutrality goodbye.

If the government decides, there's the chance of corruption (ISPs "lobby" Wheeler to make the "right" decision), but at least the government is somewhat answerable to the people. If a million people wrote to Comcast telling them not to do X and Comcast did X anyway, there would be no consequences. If a million people told the government not to do X and they did it anyway, there's a chance of consequences.

I'll agree that, ideally, it would be best if the government didn't have to get involved. Unfortunately, I don't see any scenario in which "non involvement" doesn't immediately result in Network Neutrality being killed off.

Comment: Re:Now they Ignore It (Score 5, Insightful) 131

by Jason Levine (#47912267) Attached to: The FCC Net Neutrality Comment Deadline Has Arrived: What Now?

From: Tom Wheeler
To: All My Friends At Comcast, Verizon, AT&T, etc.
Subject: Network Neutrality


I thought you guys could use a laugh... or a couple hundred thousand laughs. I've attached a file containing all of the pro-Network Neutrality comments the FCC received. The idiots actually thought we'd take their comments into consideration!

Which reminds me, let me know when you finish touching up that FCC Network Neutrality Policy so we can publicly release it.

Your humble servant,

Thomas Wheeler

Comment: Re:Again? (Score 2) 197

by Jason Levine (#47909299) Attached to: New Details About NSA's Exhaustive Search of Edward Snowden's Emails

Good point. With a normal organization, it's a good idea to put any objections in writing and in a form that can be tracked by both you and your managers, such as within e-mail messages. This way, if you say "Project A would violate these laws" and your manager says "Continue with Project A anyway", he can't later blame you for not bringing this to his attention.

The NSA is anything but a normal organization. There are enough people who have worked for the NSA and have tried to say "Project A would violate these laws" who have found themselves targeted by the NSA. So the NSA might be telling the truth (Snowden never e-mailed his concerns to anyone) while not telling the whole truth (because, had he done so, we would have had him arrested on trumped up charges to shut him up).

Comment: Re:First world problems. (Score 1) 608

Yes, this was a single album right now, but this opens the door to future "promotions" of this sort.

Imagine that this promotion turns into a regular event. At semi-regular intervals, Apple users find new albums added to their listings. These albums might be things the users like, but it's more likely that the albums are just "who cut a deal with Apple this month." That "skip past that one you don't like" would turn into "weed through those Apple Promotion albums to find the ones you actually want."

Apple is hurting their platform by doing this. If people think that their music library will be polluted by Apple selecting songs for them, they'll look into migrating to another service like Amazon.

Comment: Re:Again? (Score 1) 197

by Jason Levine (#47907395) Attached to: New Details About NSA's Exhaustive Search of Edward Snowden's Emails

At this point, you can pretty much take them at the opposite of their word.

For example, if they say "We didn't find any evidence that Snowden raised concerns about our program", then this really means "We found evidence that Snowden raised concerns about our program." You can also add the following implied section onto that statement: "We want to cover up the fact that he raised concerns, though, because it doesn't fit the narrative we'd like to build of Snowden as a traitor to the US who should have voiced his concerns through 'official channels' instead of someone who had grave concerns about a NSA program, tried to voice those concerns, and was told to keep quiet."

Algol-60 surely must be regarded as the most important programming language yet developed. -- T. Cheatham