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Comment: This can't be about the Fourth Amendment... (Score 1) 96

The Fourth Amendment only applies to the Federal government, and no state statute can reduce or increase those rights. Of course, the state itself may be limited by the Fourth (through the Fourteenth), and in that case, no state statute can reduce those rights. California may try to pass laws that provide additional protection not governed by the Fourth, provided it does not violate the Supremacy clause, and that's fine, but its unlikely to limit federal activities expressly provided for by federal statute.

There is no real dispute over the right to wiretap without a warrant (although some claim to the contrary, its not the Federal government doing the claiming), at least not since the Bush administration got into hot water over that issue.

As to the applicability of the Fourth to metadata acquisition, the Supreme Court addressed that point more than thirty years ago in Smith v. Maryland. Cases claiming that Smith is somehow inapplicable to the NSA issues are working their way through the courts, and time will tell. But it is still a legal reach to assert
that metadata acquisition somehow violates the Fourth Amendment, without qualification, given the clear Supreme Court law on the subject.

Comment: This is a radical decision (Score 1) 303

The question whether copyright existed to protect the "look and feel" of an application was open until the Supreme Court affirmed (4-4 en banc without opinion) the First Circuit decision in Lotus v. Borland. That case took decades to litigate, but addressed whether Borland was permitted in Quattro to execute Lotus 1-2-3 macros (the damned "/" tree of letter commands), even though the macro language was not aptentable. The mere "embodiment" of the "/" tree was deemed by Lotus to be protectible copyright. (In my view, Kapor should have been made a pariah for this assertion, but hey, its just me.)

The First Circuit held that when expression (if you can call the letter tree expression) equates to funtionality, it has merged with the unprotectible functionality. That has been the basis of almost all Copyright law since that time regarding reverse engineering and competition in the software industry. Any other rule would yield considerable chill to adopting new technologies, and in implementing imrpovements. The Internet itself might not have evolved as it did.

The most significant example was the Phoenix BIOS, a reverse-engineered implementation of the BIOS for the IBM PC that made clones possible. Under the Federal Circuit rule in Oracle, the Phoenix (and its progeny) would have been infringing, and we would live in a very different world than we do today.

I am cautiously optimistic that the Federal Circuit will take this matter up en banc and reverse, or perhaps SCOTUS will set it right. Until then, the conflict between Oracle and Borland cases will create a chilling uncertainty in the industry that will educate my granchildren's education, but serve little other good purpose.

In my view, an API merges with its functionality and should be unprotectable. That was the law everywhere in the United States, until today.

Comment: Generally Accepted Accounting Principles - GAAP (Score 1) 93

by pcwhalen (#46502383) Attached to: Alibaba Confirms Plans To Offer IPO In US

Which they don't follow. http://www.investopedia.com/te... There's ALL sorts of games you can play with revenue recognition alone.

Anyone here want to rely on Chinese accounting practices? http://www.chinaaccountingblog...

There are no securities laws in China similar to those in the US that require transparency so investors know what they are buying.

Hell, this will be a great IPO, just flip it on the first day. Make your profit and watch it crash.

And now to illustrate: the classic accountant's joke.

There once was a business owner who was interviewing people for a division manager position. He decided to select the individual that could answer the question "how much is 2+2?"

The engineer pulled out his slide rule and shuffled it back and forth, and finally announced, "It lies between 3.98 and 4.02".
The mathematician said, "In two hours I can demonstrate it equals 4 with the following short proof."
The physicist declared, "It's in the magnitude of 1x101."
The logician paused for a long while and then said, "This problem is solvable."
The social worker said, "I don't know the answer, but I a glad that we discussed this important question.
The attorney stated, "In the case of Svenson vs. the State, 2+2 was declared to be 4."
The trader asked, "Are you buying or selling?"
The accountant looked at the business owner, then got out of his chair, went to see if anyone was listening at the door and pulled the drapes. Then he returned to the business owner, leaned across the desk and said in a low voice, "What would you like it to be?"

User Journal

Journal: It's surprising to me how vicious atheists on /. are....

Journal by pcwhalen

I mentioned my faith as a thing that guided me and there was a maelstrom of haters. WTF? If you don't have a religion, you don't hear me trying to convert you. I don't give a Parson's fart if you do. And I don't really care what you think about me. It's just amazing that atheists want to spend so much energy to mock other people.

Kinda fucked up, really.

Comment: Just $300,000 more over a lifetime? (Score 1) 281

by pcwhalen (#46502311) Attached to: Eric Schmidt On Why College Is Still Worth It

New York University is now $42,000 a year tuition for liberal arts 4 year undergrad. Add $13,000 for housing, $4,000 for meal plan and food, and $1,000 for books and supplies and you are at around $60,000 per year undergrad at NYU, or $240,000 for a 4 year liberal arts degree. This is for a school that ranks 32d nationwide in universities. (http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/new-york-university-2785)

Tuition: (http://www.nyu.edu/bursar/tuition.fees/rate13/ugcas.html)
Housing: (http://www.nyu.edu/content/dam/nyu/resLifeHousServ/documents/AY20132014_Rates.pdf)
Meal plan: (http://www.campusdish.com/en-US/CSE/NYU/MealPlans/)
Books: (http://www.nyu.edu/content/dam/nyu/financialAid/documents/financialfacts.pdf)

US News and World (http://www.usnews.com/education/articles/2008/10/30/how-much-is-that-college-degree-really-worth) reports over a graduates lifetime, that degree really only adds $300,000 extra salary as a direct result of a degree. Why would you give up the opportunity cost of earning for 4 years at a job as well as $240,000 to get $300,000?

Because the jobs you get for the rest of your life are not the ones where you ask "Paper or plastic?" Not the back breaking, "working for the Man" bullshit jobs that you get without a degree. Instead of jobs, graduates get careers: with health insurance, vacation and promotions. Quality of life is better.

I am quite happy with what I got. I still talk with people from school. It was hard, but I feel I got my money's worth.

Comment: Causal Nexus (Score 1) 281

by pcwhalen (#46502271) Attached to: Eric Schmidt On Why College Is Still Worth It

Is it that people do better because they went to college or that people who are willing to delay gratification, work hard, broaden themselves intellectually, converse with smart people who also become successful and build a network of successful people?

The kind of person willing to shoulder debt and phone it in will never win. Just because you attended a college and got a degree doesn't mean it did anything for you.

College is an opportunity to intern, find mentors, meet peer groups and try things you might want to do for a living. It's also a place to expand beyond the modalities of your earlier life. A Liberal Arts degree requires subjects that allow a person to appreciate the world in a better perspective.

Comment: Re:I wonder (Score 1, Interesting) 154

by pcwhalen (#46479885) Attached to: A Look at the NSA's Most Powerful Internet Attack Tool

I'm not sure what country you're from, but in America, morals are for suckers and poor people.

You are wrong.

I am an American, I am far from poor and I am no man's fool. I live by the moral compass taught to me by my parents, my church and my conscience and I have done very well in my 50 years on Earth.

The most precious commodity is the ability to sleep at night.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?...

Comment: Re: Elitist America... er . No. Not this one. (Score 1) 187

by pcwhalen (#46462189) Attached to: CIA Accused: Sen. Feinstein Sees Torture Probe Meddling

At the outset, let's look at the moral of the story: You can't trust spies or spy agencies. Especially not the way the Senator has consistently told us we should trust the NSA.
This is not a case where it's ok that Senator Feinstein got hoist by her own petard for info on her own computers. This is a case of her feeling the same overreaching by an intelligence agency she says doesn't and won't happen every day with the NSA. But it's the American people who are getting fucked here, not Diane F.
We went over this in another post.
The "CIA computers" were part of a document production system provided by the CIA pursuant to a Senate Committee subpoena. It contained CIA documents responsive to the Senate subpoena in electronic form instead of paper copies. The document depository was run by private contractors. That's not really that unusual.
Apparently, when the CIA found out they had turned over to the Senate Committee a CIA draft report that was particularly harmful to the CIA's position, the draft report "disappeared" from the computerised document depository. The senior Senator from California believes the CIA caused it to disappear.
It's like erasing portions of White House tapes that had been subpoenaed a la Nixon. Just because it was done by the CIA doesn't mean it was spying, merely criminal tampering with a federal investigation. That's all.
Don't cheer that the asshat Senator got screwed by the CIA. It was us that got screwed by the CIA.

Comment: Re:CIA searched the CIA's own computers? (Score 2) 242

by pcwhalen (#46456321) Attached to: Senator Accuses CIA of Snooping On Intelligence Committee Computers

You're right. And talk about the Fourth Amendment is entirely inappropriate in this context.

Correct. She got it wrong here: this is not a 4th Amendment fact set.

Just like she gets it wrong when she says it does NOT abridge one's 4th Amendment rights to have wholesale recording of citizen's phone data.

She calls it like she sees it; whichever is politically expedient at the time.

I do not like her, Sam-I-Am.

Comment: This isn't spying, it's evidence tampering.... (Score 5, Insightful) 242

by pcwhalen (#46456157) Attached to: Senator Accuses CIA of Snooping On Intelligence Committee Computers

At the outset, let's look at the moral of the story: You can't trust spies or spy agencies. Especially not the way the Senator has consistently told us we should trust the NSA.

The "CIA computers" were part of a document production system provided by the CIA pursuant to a Senate Committee subpoena. It contained CIA documents responsive to the Senate subpoena in electronic form instead of paper copies. The document depository was run by private contractors. That's not really that unusual.

Apparently, when the CIA found out they had turned over to the Senate Committee a CIA draft report that was particularly harmful to the CIA's position, the draft report "disappeared" from the computerised document depository. The senior Senator from California believes the CIA caused it to disappear.

It's like erasing portions of White House tapes that had been subpoenaed a la Nixon. Just because it was done by the CIA doesn't mean it was spying, merely criminal tampering with a federal investigation. That's all.

Trust the CIA and the NSA. They will never over-reach or break the law.

Comment: Life finds a way.... (Score 2) 49

by pcwhalen (#46415285) Attached to: Deadly Avian Flu Strain Penetrates Biosecurity Defenses In Seoul

In the age of the airliner, a poultry farmer wipes his nose the wrong way, shakes another guy's hand, 2d guy gets on a jet to Hong Kong, jet stops long enough to change crews and off to sunny California. Kills the guys in the first village, flight crew spreads it to Hong Kong, then right to the US in less than a day.

We're fucked. Sooner or later. It's happened before.

http://www.who.int/mediacentre...

Assembly language experience is [important] for the maturity and understanding of how computers work that it provides. -- D. Gries

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