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Comment: Re: What alternative could be built? (Score 1) 140

The internal "SD Card" is formatted with a Unix-style file system that provides access controls to keep apps from being able to access one anothers' data. External SD Cards are formatted with FAT32, because that's what the whole world expects. Unfortunately, FAT has no concept of ownership or permissions, so the path-based restriction is necessary to ensure that apps can't muck with each others' data.

Comment: Encrypt your devices (Score 1) 95

by swillden (#47553639) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Preparing an Android Tablet For Resale?

It's too late now, but if this device had been encrypted before it was broken, you'd have a lot less to worry about.

OTOH, it's worth pointing out that if the level of effort required to find the storage on the broken device so you can wipe or destroy it is too much to bother with, it will almost certainly be too much effort for anyone to go through the same effort in order to retrieve your data, on the off chance there might be something of value in there somewhere.

Comment: Sorry to lose feature phones (Score 2) 137

by Anonymous Brave Guy (#47550835) Attached to: Microsoft's Nokia Plans Come Into Better Focus

I'm actually quite sad to read this. I have little interest in so-called smart phones. I have computers and tablets for running serious software and for web browsing. I don't use a lot of cloud services like those hosted by Google and Facebook, and I have little need for the kind of software that exists only as a smartphone app.

So, for many years, I have just bought a cheap and cheerful Nokia feature phone. They invariably have good battery life compared to any smartphone. They are much smaller in my pocket. They run reliably for their entire useful lifetime, without breaking or shifting everything around arbitrarily during some dramatic firmware update. They don't come with the same level of creepware that smartphones from all the major brands now do. I can buy one for next to nothing at any phone shop, without signing up to pay half my salary on a phone plan with a multi-year lock-in to the same network. And they still let me do what I actually need a phone for: pushing a couple of buttons and then talking with someone, or maybe sending the occasional text message.

I realise that smart phones rule the universe these days and I'm some sort of technological Neanderthal (aside from all the other bleeding edge tablets, computers and software I work with everyday, obviously) but I for one will miss Nokia feature phones. I guess I'll go back to hoping for a resurgent BlackBerry that at least has a business focus and therefore something resembling security and not assuming I want a Facebook icon on my home screen that can't be deleted.

Comment: And then the next step is... (Score 3, Interesting) 181

Meanwhile, someone who isn't Google and doesn't have offices in the EU will surely make up a page of links to this information. If the page generates traffic, someone will pay for add space there.

And then the next logical step is for the EU to impose some sort of sanctions on the infrastructure and payment services involved if any of them have any connection to the EU -- just as the US government has done with things like DNS and payment services that are conveniently within its jurisdiction.

I'm not sure I like where this is all going. I'm sure we can all agree that overall the Internet has been a great advance for humanity, and in recent years governments from all over the world have presumed to carve it up and control it in their own interests, almost invariably to the detriment of people somewhere else (or, in some cases, their own people).

However, we are going to have to confront some difficult philosophical and ethical differences sooner or later, because clearly we also can't have a situation where the Internet is somehow above the law, but we don't always agree on what that law should be. Frankly, the US government have been throwing their own weight around for years, and Google have been doing things that push the boundaries of typical European legal and ethical standards for a long time too. Neither has shown any particular concern or remorse about the effects of their actions abroad, and neither has suffered any significant negative consequences so far, with the possible exception of the Snowden fallout. Sooner or later the rest of the world was going to push back.

In as much as this marks a change in the general acceptance that the US can export its laws and ethics but won't be subject to anyone else's, that is probably a good direction to move in. It will force the issues of Internet governance and extra-territorial law enforcement into the open, where at least we can scrutinise and debate them honestly, instead of everyone's government doing sneaky things often without much public scrutiny and often because of coincidences involving which infrastructure happened to fall somewhere they could get at it.

Comment: Re:FUD filled.... (Score 1) 212

It sounds like this transformer had its center tap grounded and was the path to ground on one side of a ground loop as the geomagnetic field moved under pressure from a CME, inducing a common-mode current in the long-distance power line. A gas pipeline in an area of poor ground conductivity in Russia was also destroyed, it is said, resulting in 500 deaths.

One can protect against this phenomenon by use of common-mode breakers and perhaps even overheat breakers. The system will not stay up but nor will it be destroyed. This is a high-current rather than high-voltage phenomenon and thus the various methods used to dissipate lightning currents might not be effective.

Comment: Re:Even better, reflect true cost of cell phones (Score 2) 77

by swillden (#47536091) Attached to: Compromise Struck On Cellphone Unlocking Bill

And are you seriously telling me if she gets an iphone 64 GB 5S it's the same price as if she gets the $20 special?

In many cases... yes. The most expensive phones have an up-front cost in addition to the two-year commitment, but if you get the most expensive phone you can without an up-front fee, then there is no price difference between that one and the cheapest phone.

Yes, this is ridiculous.

Comment: Re:Not news (Score 1) 310

Hallam said it best: there has never been a time when humanity has successfully and peacefully coexisted with nature.

That would be a nice quote, but it contains an implicit assumption which is seriously wrong: That there is any distinction between humanity and nature.

It's not surprising that we tend to see ourselves as distinct from the rest of nature, because we are dramatically different from all other forms of life around us, and not just because we're self-centered, or even because we're objectively hugely more successful than any other species. We're dramatically different because we're the only species we know of that is capable of creating explanatory knowledge, of conjecturing and criticizing ideas, individually and in collaboration, to understand how and why things work. Many species on Earth are capable of learning, but as far as we can tell it's all "behavioral" learning; understanding merely that specific behaviors cause specific results. Sometimes the results of that level of understanding can be quite sophisticated, as in the animals who can create and use tools in complex sequences to accomplish goals, but it's still on a completely different level from the ability that humans have to deduce deep explanations of the structure and nature of the universe, and how to manipulate it.

Regardless of the temptation to view ourselves as separate from nature, though, we're not. That doesn't mean we won't benefit from applying our understanding of the rest of nature to maintain the elements of it that are beneficial to us. Obviously, we're better off if we don't make the world a worse for ourselves -- the flip side of that is that we are better off if we make the world a better place for us, so stasis is not the goal. That's really good because stasis (aka "sustainability") is impossible.

Comment: Re:That's great, but ... (Score 3, Interesting) 120

practical long distance EVs at a reasonable price and/or can recharge in less than half an hour

The price may or may not be reasonable, depending on your budget, though it definitely is for a non-trivial number of people, but the Tesla Model S fulfills the other requirements today.

My Nissan LEAF doesn't, though it's still a very practical car that easily manages all but a small fraction of my driving.

Comment: Re:He is lucky not being labelled a terrorist... (Score 1) 873

This isn't police state stuff, because Southwest Airlines is not a police organization but a private corporation.

"Failure to comply with the orders" of a flight attendant, gate attendant, or just about any other airline employee while in any area they "control" (e.g., the airplane, the gate, etc.) is a felony in the US.

So, yeah, it's "police state stuff", because these people know they have that kind of power.

Comment: Re:Is there an SWA Twitter police? (Score 1) 873

If he wanted to complain about the agent by name, he should have filed a complaint with the airlines rather than post it for anyone to see.

Do you seriously think that she would have reacted the same way (pull him off the plane and ask him to delete the tweet) if she had let the kids join him and he tweeted positively about how great she is at customer service?

The situation would be identical in that she would be named personally and an opinion would be stated about her. Just because that opinion might be a "bad" one doesn't give her the right to use her very real authority to attempt to bully him into retracting the post.

Comment: Re:Is there an SWA Twitter police? (Score 1) 873

The other is that - as the articles say - he named her in the very public tweet, and might have threatened to escalate further and encourage people to harass, threaten, or do worse to her.

So if he had named her in a tweet full of praise, it would be OK? Wouldn't she then feel threatened that wackos might want to propose to her because she's such a great person? He's not responsible for what other people might do in regards to a truthful but opinionated twitter post, regardless of whether that post is positive or negative.

I would be OK with your idea if she only requested that he remove her name from the post, and explained her personal discomfort. If she then also offered contact information for her supervisor so that he could complain about her personally if he wished, that would have been just about the perfect way to react. But, none of this should have involved pulling him off the plane. That was done solely as leverage to get her way.

Comment: Re:Customer service? (Score 1) 873

That's not government authority, that's the authority of a privately owned company to refuse service to anyone.

As others have pointed out, "failing to follow the instructions of a airline/TSA/whatever employee" when at an airport is a felony in the US. Thus, if he refused to remove the tweet, he technically could have been arrested.

Whenever the government says "you can't do X" and "X" is exercising one of your inalienable rights, it's a Constitutional issue, which in this case is 1st Amendment.

APL is a write-only language. I can write programs in APL, but I can't read any of them. -- Roy Keir

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