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Comment: Problem - we live in the future. (Score 2) 367

by Leo Sasquatch (#48552133) Attached to: Overly Familiar Sci-Fi
This morning, the radio switched itself on and gently brought me awake with the news. After 10 minutes, I rolled out from under the duvet and reflected how the money we'd spent on that memory foam mattress had been totally worth it. 5 minutes in the shower saw me both cleaner and more awake in equal measure, and I rapped on my son's door as I went past. I'm sure he was on the Xbox until 3:00 a.m., and he knows it's a uni day, but there was no response. I made some scrambled eggs in the microwave, and by the time the toast had popped and the kettle had boiled for a cup of instant, I felt almost human. The bus stop isn't far from my house, and I paid my £3 and took my seat. My phone picked up the wi-fi automatically, so I pointed my browser at the BBC and started streaming an episode of ISIRTA I hadn't heard, before settling in for a few games of Angry Birds. Halfway to work, the sun was rising over the Pentlands, so I grabbed a couple of quick shots, and updated my facebook status.

When I got to work, I flashed my badge at the building and it let me in. I'd checked the rota the night before and knew I was gutter rat this week- cleaning up the messes, so I downloaded the overnight error logs to my workstation and got busy tracing batch script failures. Peter, Mandy and Eddie were already there, but my team leader, Meera, was off ill, so I covered her phone. 3 cappuccinos, and 16 error logs later it was lunchtime, and I'd been so busy, I hadn't even gone out for a cigarette.


A normal morning, slightly compressed to fit everything in. There's a lot in there. Socio-economic status, employment, I'm old enough to have a son at university, the fact that my immediate boss is both female and non-Caucasian, no smoking in the building. The team's split roughly equally on gender lines. Eddie's gay, but that won't enter into the story so I'll never mention it. There's a lot of implicit assumptions - the reader will know what an Xbox is, cultural references. Never mind 100 years, you only have to roll it back 10 years for the 'Angry Birds' and 'Facebook' items to have no intrinsic meaning. Roll it back just 50 and we lose 'Xbox', 'microwave', 'memory foam', 'wi-fi', 'browser' as words, and the concepts that go along with their use. And how would I take shots of the sunrise without a camera? 'Streaming' is still a word, but the context is missing. And in 1964, the idea that my boss at any job, let alone a technical one, would be female and non-Caucasian, would be pretty unusual. Why would I leave the building for a cigarette? And what's with £3 for bus fare to work - where do I live, the Outer Hebrides? How did I get cappuccinos at work? Why have I got a phone on a bus?

We live in a world that would have largely been science fiction just 50 years ago. Extrapolating was hard then, and harder now. You don't need the Singularity or a post-scarcity economy to mess things up, just the micro-processor and the Internet. Nobody saw them coming. The changes they've brought have been so staggering in magnitude that it makes it all the more obvious that attempting to predict the future changes is getting sillier all the time.

Mr Stross writes lovely Mythos stories, and Accelerando is pretty good. But the one I'm trying to read at the moment, about the immortal robots all pretending to be human after the humans all died out is purely fucking tedious. It's super-futuristic, and the hard science of long, boring planetary travel is well done, but I can't remember its name right now, or the main character, and that never bodes well.
Communications

18th Century Law Dredged Up To Force Decryption of Devices 446

Posted by timothy
from the do-you-own-yourself dept.
Cognitive Dissident writes The Register has a story about federal prosecutors using a law signed by George Washington to force manufacturers to help law enforcement access encrypted data on devices they manufacture. The All Writs Act is a broad statute simply authorizing courts to issue any order necessary to obtain information within their jurisdiction. Quoting the Register article: "Last month, New York prosecutors successfully persuaded a judge that the ancient law could be used to force an unnamed smartphone manufacturer to help unlock a phone allegedly used in a credit card fraud case. The judge ordered the manufacturer to offer 'reasonable technical assistance' to make the phone's contents available." What will happen when this collides with Apple and Google deliberately creating encryption that they themselves cannot break?
Businesses

Can Ello Legally Promise To Remain Ad-Free? 153

Posted by timothy
from the anyone-can-promise-anything dept.
Bennett Haselton writes: Social networking company Ello has converted itself to a Public Benefit Corporation, bound by a charter saying that they will not now, nor in the future, make money by running advertisements or selling user data. Ello had followed these policies from the outset, but skeptics worried that venture capitalist investors might pressure Ello to change those policies, so this binding commitment was meant to assuage those fears. But is the commitment really legally binding and enforceable down the road? Read on for the rest.
Censorship

Could Maroney Be Prosecuted For Her Own Hacked Pictures? 274

Posted by timothy
from the one-notch-from-thoughtcrime dept.
Contributor Bennett Haselton writes with a interesting take on the recent release of racy celebrity photos: "Lawyers for Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney succeeded in getting porn sites to take down her stolen nude photos, on the grounds that she was under 18 in the pictures, which meant they constituted child pornography. If true, that means that under current laws, Maroney could in theory be prosecuted for taking the original pictures. Maybe the laws should be changed?" Read on for the rest.
Cellphones

Why My LG Optimus Cellphone Is Worse Than It's Supposed To Be 291

Posted by samzenpus
from the no-sir-I-don't-like-it dept.
Bennett Haselton writes My LG Optimus F3Q was the lowest-end phone in the T-Mobile store, but a cheap phone is supposed to suck in specific ways that make you want to upgrade to a better model. This one is plagued with software bugs that have nothing to do with the cheap hardware, and thus lower one's confidence in the whole product line. Similar to the suckiness of the Stratosphere and Stratosphere 2 that I was subjected to before this one, the phone's shortcomings actually raise more interesting questions — about why the free-market system rewards companies for pulling off miracles at the hardware level, but not for fixing software bugs that should be easy to catch. Read below to see what Bennett has to say.
Privacy

Can the NSA Really Track You Through Power Lines? 109

Posted by samzenpus
from the follow-that-hum dept.
mask.of.sanity writes Forensics and industry experts have cast doubt on an alleged National Security Agency capability to locate whistle blowers appearing in televised interviews based on how the captured background hum of electrical devices affects energy grids. Divining information from electrified wires is a known technique: Network Frequency Analysis (ENF) is used to prove video and audio streams have not been tampered with, but experts weren't sure if the technology could be used to locate individuals.
Programming

Overeager Compilers Can Open Security Holes In Your Code 199

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-blame-the-schools dept.
jfruh writes: "Creators of compilers are in an arms race to improve performance. But according to a presentation at this week's annual USENIX conference, those performance boosts can undermine your code's security. For instance, a compiler might find a subroutine that checks a huge bound of memory beyond what's allocated to the program, decide it's an error, and eliminate it from the compiled machine code — even though it's a necessary defense against buffer overflow attacks."

Comment: Golden Age is difficult to read (Score 1) 165

by Leo Sasquatch (#47207013) Attached to: Recommendations For Classic Superhero Comic Collections?
The art is often really basic, and the stories are often not up to much, because the writers weren't paid very much, so they just made up random stuff each month. Ooh, let's send Batman into space again, to fight crime on the planet of the Celery-heads.

You want to see what the medium can really do, go by author, not characters. Anything by Alan Moore (Watchmen, V for Vendetta, Lost Girls, Necronomicon, Marvelman), Neil Gaiman (Sandman), Garth Ennis (Punisher, War Stories), Warren Ellis (late Stormwatch, early Authority, Nextwave), Grant Morrison (Animal Man, WE3, the Invisibles). These authors can all, on a good day, push the boundaries of the medium.

The Golden Age is useful to understand some of the later parodies and homages. You need to read some very early Batman with the Bill Finger/Dick Sprang artwork to appreciate the beautiful pastiche in the 4th season episode of the animated Batman. You need to read some 50's Superman/Superboy to get the whole gist of Alan Moore's run on Supreme. The Silver Age is where comics start to get properly readable - the socially relevant Green Lanterns of the early 70's where Speedy does heroin, or the gorgeously gothic Neal Adams/Dick Giordano early 70's Batman. Before that there's a bit too much Bat-Mite, Mr Myxyzptlk and Streaky the Supercat for my liking.
Media

Virtual DVDs, Revisited 147

Posted by Soulskill
from the still-waiting-on-virtual-laserdiscs dept.
Bennett Haselton writes: "In March I asked why Netflix doesn't offer their rental DVD service in 'virtual DVD' form -- where you can 'check out' a fixed number of 'virtual DVDs' per month, just as you would with their physical DVDs by mail, but by accessing the 'virtual DVDs' in streaming format so that you could watch them on a phone or a tablet or a laptop without a DVD drive. My argument was that this is an interesting, non-trivial question, because it seems Netflix and (by proxy) the studios are leaving cash on the table by not offering this as an option to DVD-challenged users. I thought some commenters' responses raised questions that were worth delving into further." Read on for the rest of Bennett's thoughts.
Security

Flaws In Popular Solar Power Management Platform Could Crash the Grid 90

Posted by samzenpus
from the there-goes-the-sun dept.
mask.of.sanity (1228908) writes "Criminals could potentially cause black-outs and mess with power grid configurations by exploiting flaws in a popular solar panel management system used by thousands of homes and businesses. The threat is substantial because, as the company boasts, its eponymous management system runs globally on roughly 229,300 solar plants that typically pump out 566TWh of electrical energy."

Comment: How terrible (Score 2, Insightful) 259

by Leo Sasquatch (#46844889) Attached to: Hulu Blocks VPN Users
I mean, it's not as if there's any other sites on the net where you can get streaming video, or canned video, or torrents, or people sharing their favourite shows.

It's not like it takes about 5 mouse-clicks to find an alternate source for practically anything. No, Hulu clearly have everyone completely over a barrel and we must just do everything they say if we're to be allowed to consume their entertainment the way they want us to.
DRM

How Much Data Plan Bandwidth Is Wasted By DRM? 200

Posted by Soulskill
from the phoning-home-adds-up dept.
Bennett Haselton writes: "If you watch a movie or TV show (legally) on your mobile device while away from your home network, it's usually by streaming it on a data plan. This consumes an enormous amount of a scarce resource (data bundled with your cell phone provider's data plan), most of it unnecessarily, since many of those users could have downloaded the movie in advance on their home broadband connection — if it weren't for pointless DRM restrictions." Read on for the rest of Bennett's thoughts.

Comment: Re:It's the conversation, (Score 1) 367

by zotz (#46598709) Attached to: More Than 1 In 4 Car Crashes Involve Cellphone Use

Second, I really wonder how they defined a cell phone as being involved in an accident. Did they just record any accident where a phone was someplace visible to the driver? Did they record any accident where a call was in progress? Did they try to determine if the call itself contributed to the accident? Did fault come into it? If you're parked talking on the phone and somebody rear-ends you, does that count as a phone-involved accident?

These stats might be really telling us that lots of cars have cell phones in them.

Ah, someone who thinks along the lines I do. The one I get here in the islands on US AM radio speaks of 1 in every X fatal accidents involves a pedestrian. (I think X=4)

So I say, right, so when a pedestrian jumps in front of a car causing teh driver to swerve and plunge into a deep roadside canal and die, are they counting that as a fatal accident involving a pedestrian? What about one where two cars collide head on and a pedestrian is "involved" as the only witness?

all the best,

drew

Comment: Re:DO NOTE (Score 2) 97

by zotz (#46242121) Attached to: Hyperlinking Is Not Copyright Infringement, EU Court Rules

This ruling only applies to copyrighted content that is legally and publicly available. Linking to content that is behind e.g. a paywall would constitute a copyright-infringement.

Wait, how can it be a problem to link to content *behind* a paywall. Either the person clicking the link will not be able to get to the link as the content is behind a paywall and they haven't paid, or, they have paid, have rights to the content, and can get to it by following the link. Is there some other possibility?

all the best,

drew

If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants. -- Isaac Newton

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