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Comment Just a consumer version, not really new (Score 4, Informative) 153

Businesses have used these things for years, especially for heavy trucks but my company sedan has one. My company gets a healthy break on insurance rates because it's there, and they get a nifty web interface where they can pull up everyone's real-time location. Some people find it intrusive but it's kind of hard to complain since it's their car and they pay for the gas. The reporting does include sketchy errors, so it's best not to trust the warning reports too much unless there's a clear pattern. It doesn't always know the real speed limit and sometimes the GPS thinks you're in a very different place than you really are.

Comment Structuring has been a crime since the 1980's (Score 1) 510

The USA PATRIOT act did not even change this much, except for some changes to the reporting requirements for banks. Doing $9900 transactions to avoid the reporting has been a crime since the reporting requirement itself, because it's money laundering. Like civil forfeiture it's a disgusting but well established facet of the Failed War on Some Drugs. As for lying to a federal agent that's been a crime for even longer. There is nothing remotely controversial about the pickle Mr. Hastert finds himself in.

Comment Additional Equally Banal Comment (Score 3, Interesting) 172

The key to this is that Mooney is "transforming" Prince's "work" in exactly the same way he "transformed" hers. If her use is infringing, so is his. The "transformation" of simply making a large printout isn't going to fly. Copyright doesn't depend on the size or transmission method.

Comment Well that's not quite the point (Score 1) 175

The video isn't embarrassing and is publicly available, but it's not "me." There is no way I would have ever deliberately selected a pre-dawn windscreen shot of the bridge I drive across in the morning as the avatar to represent my identity for completely unrelated email. In fact, without the context of the video it's kind of a puzzle what the picture represents at all. Considering the number of reasons people upload videos to YouTube, randomly selecting a shot to use for this purpose is an incredibly stupid and invasive thing to do.

Comment A Data Point (Score 5, Interesting) 175

In case anyone wonders just how teh GOOG might use your photos behind your back...

My wife uses gmail. I don't and have never had a google account, have never uploaded a photo to them or to any other web photo service. One day my wife asked me "What's that picture with your email, the Causeway?"

A long time ago, before Google bought them, I created a YouTube account and uploaded a couple of time-lapse videos of my commute across the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway. And my contact email for that account was my yahoo email account. So apparently, when I sent my wife an email the Google gophers went scampering for an avatar, and having nothing else took the sample still for one of my YouTube videos and pasted that at the top of my incoming email.

I'll leave it to others to speculate on just how this could have gone wrong. I could probably fix it since my old YouTube account has apparently been grandfathered in to a g+ or whatever account now, but I'm leaving it as is to remind me never to trust them with anything sensitive.

Comment Both Apple and Microsof started as "Makers" (Score 4, Insightful) 458

Both companies started in the world of garage built computers. They entered a field dominated by well funded business partners like IBM and DEC and showed that "toys" affordable to ordinary mortals could be fun and useful. Now Apple and Microsoft are today's IBM and DEC, and twenty years from now there will probably be new players in their place.

Comment World's highest dick-waving contest (Score 3, Funny) 248

Highest skyscraper is a hell of an expensive way to show your ability to get an erection. How much of the Burj Dubai is even occupied? Or for that matter even the *cough* whatever they're calling it now in NYC which gets a third of its patriotic 1776 feet from a totally nonfuctional dick-waving spire.

Comment The drugs are probable cause of a crime (Score 1) 316

Nobody is disputing that forfeiture should be an option when there is actual evidence of a crime. The problem is when all they find is the $20,000 and without any other evidence -- no secret compartments, no X, and no gun -- they decide the cash is "drug money," take it, and it's up to you to prove otherwise, which is very difficult and you have a very short time and poorly documented process to make the appeal.

Comment There are shades of crazy within the RCC (Score 4, Informative) 289

Catholics range from fundamentalist jerks like this woman to those like the Jesuits who are quite sophisticated philosophers and fully aware of the difficulties which arise aligning faith with reality. Unlike Protestants who are prone to start a new denomination when they have a disagreement, all Catholics tend to continue considering themselves Catholic but they build up cliques which can barely tolerate each other under the common umbrella of the main organization. I attended a Catholic high school even though my parents were Southern Baptist; this is not unusual in New Orleans where the Catholic schools have an excellent reputation for their secular education. They had a standard procedure for non-Catholics to opt-out of rituals like the Mass when those arose, although we did have to learn the major points of Catholic doctrine (which has turned out to be useful) and we also got a whole year of comparative religion hitting the main points of other world religions. I have to give it to the CSC that they weren't afraid to hold their own beliefs up for comparison with their competitors.

Comment Pelican Case + Thermostatic Heater (Score 4, Interesting) 202

Double enclosed is best, but you probably don't have room for that. I've been putting stuff in food processing plants for 20+ years though where the conditions (especially during cleanup) are comparable. Find the smallest Pelican case (there are generic knockoffs, if you go with one check it thoroughly before trusting it) and equip it with a thermostatic heater to keep the temperature above 70F or so all the time to limit condensation. Pack in a big bag of dessicant because without double enclosure that still won't be perfect.

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