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Comment: Re:Fifth amendment zone of lawlessness (Score 1) 385

This is what happens when your job is with the Justice Department and when you only talk to other people within the Justice Department. It's like an echo chamber on to itself. You and your colleagues evolve a sense of tunnel vision and anyone who suggests a stupid idea that will make the job easier for the Justice Department will be considered an absolute genius by his colleagues, thus increasing the incentive for coming up with even more similarly stupid ideas.

And no, the Justice Department is not the only organization guilty of this. This type of thinking can evolve in any type of organization or business sufficiently focused and sufficiently insulated from the market or the people themselves.

Comment: Re:With a name like his (Score 3, Informative) 135

by stephanruby (#48922397) Attached to: How One Small Company Blocked 15.1 Million Robocalls Last Year

I sure hope his hack is free/open-source.

He's using Twilio. Twilio is not free for him (with the amount of phone traffic he's generating). Somebody has to pay for the service, whether the customer ultimately ends up paying for it, or the service is being monetized by advertisements, or a phone company decides to pay for the service as a value-added service that they pass to their own customers. The source code itself is nothing special. The idea itself isn't even new. This guy just happened to have entered a contest/hackathon sponsored by the FTC.

For white listing phone calls, google voice (integrated with Sprint) is actually pretty good. If you're looking to combine both white listing and shared black listing at the same time, there are many other startups that are offering that kind of service as well. With cloud services like Twilio or Voxeo, it's fairly easy for just one developer, or a small startup, to get into the telephony business.

Comment: Re:Damn! (Score 1) 117

by stephanruby (#48921423) Attached to: FCC Prohibits Blocking of Personal Wi-Fi Hotspots

They outlawed Faraday cages?

No, the jamming in this case is active, not passive. Passive blocking would have blocked cell phone calls as well (which would put Marriott out of business if they did that, it's not like Marriott is operating zen retreats for its customers). I suppose the wording in the US law could be interpreted to mean that intentional passive blocking isn't allowed either, but this hasn't been tested in court yet. And again, this kind of blocking is not what we're talking about with Marriott International.

Faraday cages are built with mesh copper. They're prohibitively expensive to build because you can't really skimp on the copper. Because of this cost issue, don't expect effective Faraday cages to be built in movie theaters (or zen retreats) to enclose their audience. I mean, I'm sure some movie theaters will try to build very large and cheap Faraday cages for their audience, but don't expect any of those Faraday cages to actually work as intended if they skimped on the cost -- which they undoubtedly will.

Comment: Re:Who eats doughnuts with the doughnut men? (Score 4, Interesting) 454

by stephanruby (#48909553) Attached to: Police Organization Wants Cop-Spotting Dropped From Waze App

Pasco said. 'There's no control over who uses it. So, if you're a criminal and you want to rob a bank, hypothetically, you use your Waze.'"

What about the non-criminals who want to know where the police are so they can get some help from them? Or what about the non-criminals who want to know when police officers are blocking a side of the road, or dealing with a traffic situation? If they really don't want to be bothered, they should just drive unmarked cars, make their phone numbers unlisted, and institute some kind of paywall for their official web sites.

Instead of removing information from Waze, they should just be adding information to it with their own api. They could transmit the gps location of their marked cars in real-time (like bus systems now do with the nextbus api). When responding to a call, they should just send the person who called a real-time update of their estimated arrival. And when there is a bank robbery, they should just flood the Waze api with virtual police officers everywhere.

Not only that, but if the police could try to crowdsource the effort of looking for bank robbers, child abductors, or the obvious-looking drunk drivers, through Waze instead of overburdening the outdated the 911 system, that would help them prioritize and weed out most of the false positives in real-time.

Comment: Re:Quadcopter (Score 1) 146

by stephanruby (#48907417) Attached to: Secret Service Investigating Small Drone On White House Grounds

...if you were wanting to cause some commotion.

Or it could just have been an accident. I know I've lost the control of my drone before. In my case, it was because I had the toggle on for absolute control, so no matter how much I would twist and turn my tablet -- it would keep on going the wrong way.

And please don't tell me you wouldn't take a drone to Washington DC. Taking pictures or videos with a small drone is awesome (assuming you don't lose control of it while doing it). It lets you take shots from unusual perspectives and it differentiates your pictures and videos from the millions of boring pictures and boring videos already taken of the same monuments.

Comment: Re:Nice troll (Score 1) 567

Like everyone else reporting on this story, it completely misses the point...

Notice that this story is a repeat with always the same theme. It always includes a critic of Google going after Microsoft as well.

It's not just a troll posting this, it's most likely a paid troll doing it.

Comment: Re:Done without negative feedback (Score 2) 51

by stephanruby (#48901137) Attached to: A Call That Made History, 100 Years Ago Today

Does this mean that Alexander Graham Bell made the very long range call to his assistant in 1915, but that until 1927 it was just a bunch of garbled noises that no else but the assistant could understand?

Hopefully, AT&T will jump on that expired patent. It would be nice if AT&T allowed its cell phones to do the same thing by year 2027

Comment: Re:Other than the obligatory security theatre... (Score 1) 110

by stephanruby (#48896603) Attached to: Bomb Threats Via Twitter Partly Shut Down Atlanta's Hartsfield Airport

... just what would the fighter escort hope to accomplish?

Radio frequency jammers may be, in case the bomb is remotely detonated. I actually don't know.

I don't know if fighter jets are equipped with them, but I can tell you that some helicopters have them. That's what the secret services uses to block cell phone frequencies and other types of frequencies when the President is traveling around.

Comment: Re:Make Yourself Known (Score 1) 65

by stephanruby (#48896581) Attached to: Smartphones, Tablets and EBay Send SkyMall To Chapter 11

OK, I've always wondered who actually has ever bought anything from Skymall. I mean, we've all looked, but who has actually done the deed?

Does Skymall include the tax-free liquor? If so, yes, depending on the country I was going to.

Otherwise, no. At least not when I was flying into California. Even with the $3.30-$6.60 tax surcharge per wine gallon, I can still get my liquor much cheaper at Costco than I can get aboard the plane, or at the tax-free duty shop.

Comment: Re:Solves a different problem I'm not sure exists? (Score 1) 85

by stephanruby (#48894869) Attached to: 'Never Miss Another Delivery' - if You Have a TrackPIN (Video)

An acquaintance of mine took this concept of hospitality even further, since he usually ships packages every single day from his residential home (which is probably not even permitted because of zoning regulations).

He transformed his garage into his shipping station. He also put out a nice kitchen table and some chairs in the garage with fresh brewing coffee and visibly home-made muffins on the table itself, along with take out coffee cups in case the delivery person doesn't have time to sit down.

If you really want your delivery person to accept your cup of tea, he has to see that a fresh pot of tea has already been made, and he has to think he's not interrupting you, or putting you out (for actually saying "yes" to an offer, which sometimes are just made out of ingrained politeness instead of real intent).

Also, don't expect every delivery person to accept your cup of tea. Some people are just shy, or really too busy in that particular moment, to be able to accept anything.

Comment: Re:It's about time! (Score 1) 40

by stephanruby (#48894729) Attached to: Made-In-Nigeria Smart Cards To Extend Financial Services To the Poor

For the President's Goodluck sake (yes, Goodluck is actually his real name)...

And why is that noteworthy?

Must everyone have the same kind of names used where you live?

Yes, my previous post could have been written a little better.

That being said, semantic ambiguity happens all the time, even where I live.

As a French person living in the US who gets his news partly from American news broadcasts, I have actually been made fun of by other French people for referring to our former French prime minister as Edith Croissant (just like the crescent shaped pastry, instead of Edith Cresson, which was/is actually her real name).

Comment: Re:It's about time! (Score 1) 40

by stephanruby (#48891969) Attached to: Made-In-Nigeria Smart Cards To Extend Financial Services To the Poor

Hopefully this will make it a lot easier for those Nigerian princes and military widows to transfer those millions of dollars to me. I keep giving them my bank account info, but I'm still waiting.

I know you're joking, but the answer is a huge "No".

Take this sentence for instance which at first didn't make any sense to me:

Import tariffs heavily skewed to the advantage of imported finished cards would have made it difficult for local manufacturers to compete on cost

Apparently here, the President is patting himself on the back for having increased the import tariff to such a high level, that it has become impossible for foreign manufacturers to compete on cost. Wow! This President must be some kind of genius or something.

Not only, this new bolder protectionist strategy (which is even bolder than the previous protectionist strategy) is bound to propel Nigeria to new financial heights, but the President has zeroed in the banking industry's own dirty little secret. In banking, it's not the loans/investments, interests, or fees, that make the money. It's actually the manufacturing of the little plastic cards with a little bit of silicon in them that is the real cash cow of the banking industry.

For the President's Goodluck sake (yes, Goodluck is actually his real name), I sure hope that the WTO never catches onto his bold and unfair protectionist strategy over those little plastic cards with a little bit of silicon in them. President Goodluck may actually kill himself, if he ever found out that the WTO was against him when it came down to those little plastic cards.

Computer programmers do it byte by byte.