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Comment: Re: My freedom not yours, say the usuals. (Score 1) 252

by david_thornley (#49548249) Attached to: Twitter Rolls Out New Anti-Abuse Tools

Again, I've watched this happen. The defining thing about the assholes is not that they're right or wrong, but that they dominate the discussion in quantity of posts and use the forum for their own discussions, typically unconnected to the subject of the forum, and can get insulting. Eventually, the people interested in the topic decide that it's not worth burrowing through the crap and the abuse and they move away, leaving the forum to the assholes to use for their own stupid purposes.

This has nothing to do with right or wrong. I've been in situations where I was in a very small minority on a particular topic being discussed. I'm perfectly comfortable in that situation, as long as the discussion remains civil and reasonably on topic. I find those situations good learning experiences, even if I don't change my opinion, and I rather enjoy them.

This is also not a freedom of speech issue. If you are in my house, I'm happy to let you express different opinions, and I'll join in the arguing and maybe we'll all learn something. One of my friends said he had smart friends with weird political views, I told him that coincidentally I had the same issue, and everything was fine. If you get obnoxious or insulting I will take some sort of action, which might well be to ask you to leave, and exercise your free speech rights somewhere else. By doing this, I keep exposed to different points of view (although to be honest it can drive my wife up the wall), and we all stay friends. In other words, I'm not at all coming from an anti-free-speech or everybody-must-agree-with-me angle.

Twitter is a private service, trying to give lots of people a good experience so they can get money out of the situation somehow. If most people have a bad experience, the company dies. For this reason, they have a vital interest in keeping the conversations more or less civil. If you want a different sort of service, feel free to start one. That's what freedom of speech is all about: you don't get to say anything you want on somebody else's site, but you can start your own and try to attract people.

Comment: Re: The UK Government Are Massively Out Of Touch (Score 1) 190

by david_thornley (#49548171) Attached to: Assange Talk Spurs UK Judges To Boycott Legal Conference

What part of the UK police not violating international law don't you get? If they wanted to, they could warn the embassy, walk in, grab Assange, and walk out. Diplomatic immunity is not intended to allow an Ecuadorian embassy to keep a fugitive from justice that has Australian nationality, is in the UK, and is wanted in Sweden. Doubtless the international lawyers would argue about it, but the UK certainly has the ability to do that and some (not necessarily enough) legal justification. (Going into an embassy uninvited does not constitute invading that country. The embassy is on UK soil, although it has protected status.)

Assange was in the UK for some time. At no point did any UK authorities even hint at picking him up and sending him to the US, and the US didn't ask. Given the UK lapdog status, the US probably could have had him extradited to the US to face some sort of espionage charge.

The only reason getting him out of the UK was ever brought up was a perfectly standard legal procedure that would end in his going to Sweden. If the US wanted him that bad, they would either have already kidnapped him or filed charges and asked for extradition. Since they have not made any such move while Assange was in Sweden, or the UK, why would they do anything until Sweden filed an extradition request, and it slowly made its way through the English legal system?

The police watching the Ecuadorian embassy are probably there because it's a publicized case with that's politically hot.

There's a perfectly reasonable explanation of why the UK wants to send him to Sweden, and any speculation about US involvement would have to account for why the US has not gotten involved until now.

Comment: Re:Except... (Score 1) 153

The justice system has some flex, but it's generally predictable. Human flexibility means it isn't the rigid computer-language-like system, yes, but if you can state an issue in fairly general terms you can generally use logic. If this wasn't the case, we wouldn't have tax loopholes, and we wouldn't have lawyers advising on how to do things the legal way.

Microsoft is going to lose, because the cold hard fact is that Microsoft USA has direct access to the emails the US judge wants, and the US judge can direct US people in a US company to turn over pretty much any data they've got access to.

Twitter is setting things up (as I understand it) so that Twitter USA simply does not have access to certain data. The US judge can direct the people in Twitter USA to do things, like direct the people in Twitter Ireland to hand over the information, but the people in Ireland know that it's illegal to hand over the information (if it's legal we have no problem here), and that Irish law protects them from retaliation. The question is what the US judge can do in the face of legal barriers elsewhere.

If the data goes through Twitter USA at some point, the judge can presumably order them to start collecting it. If the policy was not to store it, I'd suspect that it would be like policy on email retention: you can't be faulted for destroying email according to policy, but you have to stop deleting it if the judge says so. You can also tell the judge that providing information is an undue burden. It's going to require a lot of proof, but that claim has been used and has been successful. The courts are not normally in the business of requiring the impossible or the unduly onerous.

If Twitter complies with all court orders as well as it can, it's likely to get away with this, as long as the data is never in this country. It's not unusual for a litigant or prosecutor to ask for court orders in the US and in another country to get data from that other country.

Comment: Re:So what? (Score 1) 391

by david_thornley (#49547963) Attached to: Using Adderall In the Office To Get Ahead

The world is not as you state it (and as far as I know the people in the ultra high pressure jobs use cocaine, not amphetamines). Not yet.

The question is whether it will go that way. If performance-enhancing drugs start getting popular at lower levels, there's a danger that they will become mandatory. What if I could suddenly program twice as fast with no lack of quality? That would be cool. I'd do even better on my annual reviews. What if everybody else did and I didn't? That wouldn't be cool, unless I could also join them. Should I then give up on being a software developer, if I can't keep up except by dying early? I can take a pay cut and still live pretty well, but how far down will the pressure go?

My son benefited from having his father around a lot, although I wasn't all that healthy when he was young (unrelated issue). He also benefited from the fact that we had a stimulating environment to start with, and we were able to give him some good opportunities because we did have money to spend. (For example, there was a great summer program that wasn't cheap. He got a lot of good out of it.) At some point of income, I'd have to dig my heels in and insist that I wasn't going lower, no matter what it meant for my long-term health.

Prostitution is a similar sort of thing. My attitude is that I don't care what consenting adults do in private, including not caring about any financial arrangements. However, I don't want prostitution to be forced on people, because it could be really bad for many of them. As long as it's illegal, there's a way to resist much of the pressure to do it. Make it legal, and there's no legal resistance. Welfare moms, or unemployed people, are often required to take any reasonable job offer or lose their benefits. If the only offer is as a clerk-typist, the mom is going to become a clerk-typist (if qualified). If the only offer is to work in a brothel, what the mom has to do depends on whether prostitution is legal or not.

Comment: Re:A short, speculative cautionary tale... (Score 1) 391

by david_thornley (#49547873) Attached to: Using Adderall In the Office To Get Ahead

I believe that, if my schoolmates had tried emulating me, they would have failed hard. Could you point me to some of those studies (terms to type in to Google Scholar would be great)? My experience on the very few I've seen was that the experiment didn't come anywhere near showing what the paper claimed. In the paper like that I remember best, the thesis was that anybody could learn to be a great memorist, and the support was that one of a group of subjects had managed to do so.

Comment: Re:They should be doing the opposite (Score 1) 298

How about fiction, which can be entertaining and insightful? Is something that entertains me useful? I'd get awful grumpy if I couldn't get any good fiction, and a check of my credit card records will show I have no qualms about paying for the stuff.

Comment: Re:How much is the royalty? (Score 1) 298

If copyright lasted only thirty years or so, the problem I mentioned would not exist. For it not to exist with current copyright lengths, there would have to be some sort of compulsory licensing provision, which I think would be more headaches than reasonably long copyrights.

Comment: Re:Good for them (Score 1) 143

Depends. If the vendor intends to fix reported problems reasonably fast, then full disclosure gives the bad guys a boost up. If the vendor doesn't care about reported problems, it might light a fire under them. Knowing nothing about how Groupon addresses reported vulnerabilities, all I can say is that they can set bounty rules as they like, and people either will or won't look for vulnerabilities.

Comment: Re:Apple? (Score 1) 403

by david_thornley (#49546845) Attached to: We'll Be the Last PC Company Standing, Acer CEO Says

Insightful? Ummm.

Apple computers are often price-competitive with feature-competitive non-Apple computers. The question is whether you want to spend the money for the extra features, since Apple does NOT go low-end or get into commodity markets. If you don't want to spend that money for those features, fine. No problem.

Suppose you can buy a Mac computer for $1300 and one that will do for $400. Now, suppose you intend to use it heavily for the next three years. That's less than $1/day additional cost, and if the nicer features make each day more than $1 more pleasant, the Mac may well be your best buy. If the nicer features don't make each day $1 more pleasant, you're probably better off not buying the Mac.

Alternatively, say you want to test stuff on browsers on Windows, MacOS, and Linux, and write apps for Android and iOS. An Apple computer will let you do all that, and a non-Apple computer won't. (Not legally, anyway, and I wouldn't trust a Hackintosh to give me good test results.) Apple customers do tend to spend more on their computers than Windows users, and they make a good market.

Unix is the worst operating system; except for all others. -- Berry Kercheval