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Comment: Re:What about Snowden (Score 4, Informative) 268

by LessThanObvious (#49131585) Attached to: It's Official: NSA Spying Is Hurting the US Tech Economy

I support Congressman Thomas Massie (R) - Kentucky for that reason. I have a lot of respect for him being one of the few that actually went on record publicly stating in a televised interview that Snowden did a service to the people. I commend him for that courage.

Comment: Re:"THIS" is what we're concerned with? (Score 1) 162

by LessThanObvious (#49130537) Attached to: Should a Service Robot Bring an Alcoholic a Drink?
The fact that this is where we are in the discussion of robots makes even more skeptical of how much robots are going to play a role in the next 20 years. It would have to be a pretty sophisticated robot to even understand the decision factors. If I ask a robot to bring me alcohol, does it know I intend to consume it? What if I mean to bring the bottle of wine as a gift? If I ask the robot to bring me motor oil, should it assume I might drink it? If I ask it to kill a chicken for dinner will it comply? If I tell it to separate a house cat into two pieces, will it comply? For the immediate future robots are going to be very stupid in terms of thinking in the abstract and understanding the complexities of human ethics and decision making. Any function that involves real human interaction and not a very narrow set of tasks will just not work well with robots at this time. Humans have to take full responsibility for instructions given to a robot. You can ask a robot to require an authorization to provide alcohol, or limit the quantity issued, but expecting it to make complex decisions based on subjective data is going to make for one expensive and temperamental bartender.

Comment: Re:The temptation to jump ship (Score 1) 253

I like the E-Ink readers like Kindle for the same reasons of eye strain. I do often end up reading books for study purposes on the Kindle for PC client as I find it faster to add highlights and turn pages on the PC. What I'd really like would be a larger format E-Ink device with two 8.5 by 11" screens so it lays out just like the book and rescanning the previous page becomes easier. Then I just need a pen style touch input to make easy highlights of text I need to reference again. As it is, even my 9.7" Kindle DX just isn't enough visual real estate for technical study that often has large diagrams. I often end up throwing it on my 23" monitor despite how much I hate LCD screens for reading.

Comment: Re:Sensational headline (Score 1) 147

by LessThanObvious (#49116401) Attached to: Looking Up Symptoms Online? These Companies Are Tracking You

I'd still say one primary benefit of said HIPPA privacy is that the personal information can't be used against you. I'll admit I am disappointed to find discrimination in hiring due to medical status can be legal if it doesn't qualify under ADA, GINA or Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA). I'd always thought all medical info was off limits for employment screening, but I guess that is just HR keeping us from asking questions that might expose an issue in a protected category. As far as creditors being able to deny you a loan for medical reasons, I'd really hate to see people who need to take out a home equity line in order to deal with a medical crisis potentially get denied because they have a medical crisis. There are cases where lenders will get burned because of something they don't know, but allowing medical info into the mix with traditional financial info is an ethical rabbit hole that I feel is best avoided.

Comment: Re:Sensational headline (Score 1) 147

by LessThanObvious (#49115781) Attached to: Looking Up Symptoms Online? These Companies Are Tracking You

| Re:--> What "harm"? If a syphilis-infection, for example, increases one's danger of bankruptcy, his credit score should reflect that.

I have no doubt serious medical problems, or any number of very private factors in an individuals personal life increase their risk of default. It doesn't mean there shouldn't be a curtain that that creditors should not be able to look behind. What a person shares unwittingly may not be covered by HIPPA, but protecting people from medical discrimination is in the spirit of why HIPPA exists. In this case we are talking about search history. There is no reliable way to know that the person doing the searching is the subject of the search, or that multiple financially unrelated people aren't sharing a computer. You can't legally discriminate in hiring based on medical info, creditors shouldn't ever be allowed to use that data either, especially not unsubstantiated data collected without the individual's knowledge.

Comment: Re:Given what people use them for, I'd say no. (Score 1) 207

by LessThanObvious (#49115541) Attached to: Wired On 3-D Printers As Fraud Enablers

It's not enough to have liability associated with copyright violation. They have to make sure people don't have violation as an available option. Clearly that sort of freedom would be bad for business. Personally, I'd rather people have the choice of breaking any law they choose if they are willing to risk the consequences. It's a model that feels much more American to me than any attempt at crime prevention through the deprivation of free will.

Comment: Re:Maybe NoScript? (Score 1) 147

by LessThanObvious (#49115393) Attached to: Looking Up Symptoms Online? These Companies Are Tracking You

For me it's NoScript, Adblock, Ghostery, BetterPrivacy and Refcontrol, on every computer, every time. Only Startpage for search. I'd love to support DuckDuckGo, but the search results aren't as effective at this point. I blackhole over 300 domains in DNS just for good measure. Google's Advertising Cookie Opt-Out plugin is useless because I clear all cookies and temp files every time I shut down. Without using TOR, that's about as good as I know how to get it. I also null route over 100 foreign /8 IP address blocks, but that is about security rather than tracking.

Comment: Re:Sensational headline (Score 1) 147

by LessThanObvious (#49115179) Attached to: Looking Up Symptoms Online? These Companies Are Tracking You
Yes, everything is being tracked everywhere, to the greatest degree the consumer allows it to occur. The credit reporting agencies behavior overall is really a cause for concern. I think the central job these companies do should be firewalled off from all other commercial interests and activities. There is a risk of non-financial data creeping into financial evaluation of borrowers and job seekers and that has a lot of potential for harm. The credit reporting agencies are also guilty of sharing personal info in some very inappropriate ways. The Experian incident being a fine example: http://krebsonsecurity.com/201... . It's basically impossible to have a normal existence in the U.S. without allowing these companies to have your personal information. If we can't trust them to safeguard our data and use data appropriately, then none of us can be safe from fraud and unreasonable discrimination, no matter how careful we are in our own lives.

Comment: Re:The road... (Score 1) 139

by LessThanObvious (#49114453) Attached to: L.A. School Superintendent Folds on Laptops-For-Kids Program

The intentions behind stupidity aren't all that important. I'll call scrapping this program a win for the kids. There may be a valid technical solution to some problems in education, but iPads, conventional laptops or any device + Pearson is not the right solution. Technology won't solve teaching to the test and it won't stop schools from pushing to much of the work off to homework when they could do more with the classroom time. Very little percentage of education is well suited to education software and my own experiences with education software lead me to believe it's a format where very little is retained.

Comment: Re:"Fairness" (Score 1) 303

What if we simply allow the rights holder should set the price for their work? Isn't that the point of having a copyright? Not all art has the same value and the rights holder should determine their own marketing strategy. Most likely then these services would have to vary the subscription price based on usage, which seems reasonable to me. Everybody except the consumer is losing in the current model and the consumer just gets trained to undervalue the content they consume.

Comment: Re:Problem of a tech illiterate population (Score 1) 129

by LessThanObvious (#49097249) Attached to: Gadgets That Spy On Us: Way More Than TVs

I certainly agree in theory, but I'm a realist on this one. In order to truly have anything and everything be opt-in to the extent we'd want it would kill tens if not hundreds of billions in commerce. It would be a political non-starter. If it went anywhere with legislators they would poke so many loopholes in it, most of the value would be lost. I'd much rather have a real opt-out in a central database that puts legal teeth behind any violation as well as other obvious stuff like forcing respect for do-not-track in HTTP. Currently they do what they want and for most forms of tracking they have no legal obligation to offer true opt-out. Right now my home address is published on the web and I have no legal right to demand its removal because they claim to be able to publish info obtained from public records. I do agree that the default on all agreements should required to be opt-out, but that alone won't stop tracking and information collection by parties that do so without my even being asked.

Show me a man who is a good loser and I'll show you a man who is playing golf with his boss.