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Comment Re:Except they used regular SMS (Score 5, Insightful) 291

Still, the governments of the world have been asking us to give up on having any level of privacy so that they can "catch terrorists". I think they need to demonstrate some things before I can even think about accepting that idea.

1) There's oversight over the collection and storage of the data that guarantees that it's being used for that purpose. There's no possibility that it can be used for other law enforcement operations, for blackmail, or for looking at dick pics (thank you, John Oliver).
2) The program is effective. If you're collecting my SMS messages so that you can stop terrorist attacks, show me that you're catching terrorists that way. Don't collect SMS messages preemptively and then go, "Well after the fact, we found that the terrorists used SMS and we just didn't catch it. But after we caught people who were involved and found their cell phones, we thought it was kind of helpful to see those SMS messages."
3) Explain why the terrorists won't just change their methods. People say things like, "When guns are illegal, only criminals will have guns," and then the same people say, "We need to make it illegal to send encrypted messages that we can't break." It doesn't make sense.

That's just to start. I'll think about more questions when those can be answered.

Comment Re:A better idea (Score 4, Interesting) 284

Pretty much plan isn't going to work if you allow for blatant rule-breaking. Make it so if you have a "junior apprentice programmer" that has 20 years of experience and is running the project, the company gets fined and the hiring manager risks jail time. Have random audits to confirm people are following the rules. Enforce those rules.

Besides, if someone is applying for an H-1B visa for a "junior apprentice programmer" on the basis that they need a specialist that isn't available in the US population, that application should be rejected on it's face.

Comment Re:DRM is bad. (Score 1) 106

Yeah, but some of that data is straight-up garbage. I doubt we're producing books, music, and movies at a rate that outpaces our ability to store them. I'm sure we have plenty of storage to archive all the important works of art that are being created. I'm sure we could archive the source code of every piece of software-- even including all the various versions. I even bet we have plenty to to archive every tweet, blog post, and instagram pic.

If I had to guess, I'd guess the problem would come from trying to archive every phone call, text message, IM, email, and download-- including metadata, including redundant copies of everything transferred. That is, if I send an email to 20 people containing a 50 MB PDF, keeping each copy, 50 MB * 21. If you're trying to store a copy of every movie every time it's streamed from Netflix, that's going to add up really quick.

So the real trick is going to be to make sure we have an archival procedure for the data we care about. We don't need to store everything.

Comment Re:DRM is bad. (Score 1) 106

Video games aren't "nascent" at all, they've been around since the 1970s

Well in comparison to other art forms-- e.g. painting, sculpture, writing-- that's nascent. And part of my point here is that we've probably already lost some of that art from the first few decades due to DRM, or just due to the software being locked to specific hardware. I'm possibly a little radical in that I've supported the idea that, if developers want to enjoy legal copyright protection, they should be submitting their source code to some governmental body (Library of Congress?) for preservation. When the copyright expires, the source should be put into public domain.

and were better quality in previous decades too.

I don't know why you're even bringing up this idea. Some people are going to argue with you, but it's completely irrelevant to what I was saying.

Comment Re:Amber: Journeys Beyond (Score 1) 106

[I] had to install Windows 95 using VMWare to get it to play.

This reminds me of a thought that I've had about Linux gaming. Basically, it would be really great if the whole Steam Machine thing took off, and Linux became the de facto platform for PC gaming-- not because of immediate problems that it might solve, but because of this issue of archiving old games. Even if the game itself was never open sourced, you would always have the option of tracking down the specific Linux version/revision that the game was designed to play on, virtualize that platform, and then play the game. Right now, playing games in virtual machines doesn't make for great performance, but old games were designed for slower computers, so perfomance is less of an issue.

In fact, what would be ideal is if games could be bundled in some kind of container that had it running on a stripped-down VM, making it completely portable and archivable. I'm sure it'd be a technical challenge to make that happen in such a way that the game ran well, but I feel like if you made a VM OS optimized just for playing games (including no other components) you could make it fairly small and lightweight.

Comment Re:DRM is bad. (Score 3, Insightful) 106

The problem is that we don't know.

Today, we learned how to understand Egyptian hieroglyphs by looking at the Rosetta Stone. I doubt whoever made that stone understood the importance at the time. Jumping ahead to something more modern, a lot of early Doctor Who episodes were lost because they taped over them. The idea of reruns wasn't quite a thing yet, and the people making the show apparently didn't think anyone would be interested in watching them again.

So those are just two examples, but there are many writers and artists and engineers throughout history whose work became important or relevant much later on. Meanwhile, we're basically throwing away all the examples of a nascent art form that combines art and engineering like nothing that came before. The way we're locking games into specific hardware platforms and requiring DRM-- it'd be like if we burned all books 7 years after they're completed, for fear that someone might read them without paying a licensing fee.

Comment Re: Offer paid support? (Score 1) 213

I think the GP post was pointing out that if its FOSS, they can also compare the code before and after the fix, and see what the fox was. If you're frequently charging them for fixes that are suspiciously obscure-but-simple-to-fix, they're in a position to review the changes and call you out.

Comment Re:That's nothing (Score 2) 258

The issue is, human drivers have a strong instinct of self-preservation. Someone who has to decide between the parade and the tree in a split second will probably avoid the tree out of sheer instinct.

Now then, you might think the cool-headed computerized car will make the right decision and kill its occupant. But I can just imagine the following court case: "Your honor, my father's car killed him wilfully. I therefore sue Toyota/BMW/Honda/Google for murder, and for 100 kajillion dollars in damage".

One such court case - especially in the US - will do enormous damage to the entire industry, and might kill it off entirely. And no, the argument that autonomous car create fewer accidents overall won't fly, because somebody's property isn't supposed to kill its owner on purpose. You can bet emotions will run high, and emotions aren't good for rational debates.

Not to mention of course, people will have second thoughts about buying a vehicle that they know can decide to put them in danger for the greater good.

Comment Re:That's OK, I only care about bar crawls (Score 1) 258

As long as the car can drive me home after the last bar in the line, I'm happy.

That's called a taxi, and it's cheaper than an autonomous car. The only downside is, if you barf on the back seat, the cab driver might smash your teeth in - something the autonomous car won't do.

Comment That's nothing (Score 0) 258

The real test of artificial intelligence will come when the self-driving vehicle will have to decide between plowing into a crowd of people to protect the driver, and smashing into a tree to protect the crowd of people - but killing the driver, when the accident is inevitable.

Computers just aren't good at all at that sort of thing. You can make them drive any car in any environment quite reliably eventually, I suppose, but deciding who gets to die? Hmm...

This day will happen. I can't wait to see the legal and moral discussions that will ensue after the first such accident occur.

Comment Re:Such innovations (Score 2) 77

Innovation 2: Hidden cost reductions - getting Gateway boxes with "missing" SIMM slots, expansion card slots, etc.

Also, using low quality/defective parts. I don't know quite what they were doing, but I owned one Gateway computer, and almost every part failed at some point. The hard drive failed 4 times. The tape backup drive failed twice. The CD-ROM drive failed 3 times. The video card died once. The monitor died at one point. All of this was within the first 2 years and was covered under warranty, but it was a mess.

A few years later, my parents bought another one. Same basic deal.

In hindsight, I wonder how they did it, picking so many failed parts. For example, they used Western Digital hard drives. Did they make a deal with Western Digital to buy defective drives at a discount? How did Western Digital sort out drives that would work for at least 3 months, but fail within the first 6 months? It doesn't really make sense. But Gateway sure seemed to know how to scoop up every defective drive Western Digital put out.

"I've finally learned what `upward compatible' means. It means we get to keep all our old mistakes." -- Dennie van Tassel