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Comment: Re: It's what you do with it that counts (Score 1) 184

by tomalpha (#48334245) Attached to: British Spies Are Free To Target Lawyers and Journalists

Mass surveillance should never be tolerated

I agree and that's not what I said and not what TFS or TFA is about - they're about targeted surveillance of lawyers. Which is always wrong, with a few possible but very rare exceptions. Targeting lawyers of people who criticise the government is clearly wrong and a blatant abuse of power.

I'll endeavor to not be completely ignorant of history

I don't think I'm completely ignorant of history (although I wouldn't would I), but I might disagree with you about how we solve the problem. And as I said above, there is clearly a problem that needs fixing.

Comment: Re:Apologist (Score 1) 184

by tomalpha (#48334075) Attached to: British Spies Are Free To Target Lawyers and Journalists

British spies should be spying on _every_ British citizen illegally

That's not what I said and not what I believe. It's not what TFA is about either.

Trying to conflate the jobs of law enforcement and "spying"

I am dead set against that. The only example I gave was spying on a foreign leader which, as I said, I consider distasteful but (sometimes) necessary. You can, and quite possibly do, disagree with that and that's fine.

apologists don't want debate and dialogue

Whilst I don't believe I'm an apologist, debate and dialogue is what we're having here, and you'll see a previous comment of mine above where I said it's a good thing that we're outraged. And yes, I'm outraged if the government and/or intelligence agencies have been abusing their power. That doesn't necessarily mean that breaking the attorney-client privilege is always a bad thing and to be clear, it absolutely doesn't mean it's a good thing either. It's not too hard to come up with a (very unlikely but not impossible) circumstance where the majority of citizens would agree it was the right thing to do in that very individual and specific circumstance. My position is simply that I favour more scrutiny and accountability rather than more laws and absolute rules - never say never, but you must be able to, and made to, justify why you're doing something as a spy.

Comment: Re: It's what you do with it that counts (Score 1, Insightful) 184

by tomalpha (#48332825) Attached to: British Spies Are Free To Target Lawyers and Journalists
It's a nice thought but I don't think that works in the imperfect world we live in. We don't only spy because everyone else does (though I dare say there's an element of that). There has to be some way of letting the security services in their various forms do what they need to do. And to be clear: I think "need" here means what we the people as a democratic majority agree they need to do. (We the people also need to be realistic about the world we live in in doing so). Slightly changing tack as well: It's good and healthy that everyone's angry if someone abuses a position of responsibility and power. We just need to channel that productively so we make sure we don't throw the baby out with the bath water when we fix the problem. I also think that engineering a culture in our intelligence agencies that shies away from any abusive practices. You want people to avoid abusing power because they think that's right, not just because it's against a law or rule of some kind. My gut instinct is that the culture is probably well intentioned. Caveat the road to hell etc...

Comment: Re: It's what you do with it that counts (Score 1) 184

by tomalpha (#48332737) Attached to: British Spies Are Free To Target Lawyers and Journalists

Spies should respect laws and constitutions, at the very least those of their own country.

No argument from me there, but how do we balance this against other nations or groups that don't play by the same rules? (However limited or flawed the home laws might currently be).

Comment: It's what you do with it that counts (Score -1, Troll) 184

by tomalpha (#48332669) Attached to: British Spies Are Free To Target Lawyers and Journalists
Spies should listen in to whatever they need to listen in to. That's what they're there for. Nations spy on other nations. It's not pretty, but it's reality. That might include otherwise privileged or sensitive conversations - I bet Angela Merkel would feel that her conversations are in some way "privileged" (clearly not in an attorney-client sense). The worrying aspect here appears to be if, when, and how that data might have been passed to other areas of government. Passing, say, data gained from spying on defence lawyers and passing that to the government prosecutor should be criminal.

Comment: Surely not the "largest" tank? (Score 1) 163

by tomalpha (#48219371) Attached to: British Army Looking For Gamers For Their Smart-Tanks
From TFA:

the largest and smartest tank ever designed for the British Army

So my first thought was surely not - the Challenger 2 is a main battle tank and must be bigger. But it turns out I was wrong. The Challenger 2 is still 20 tonnes heavier, but significantly shorter in height:

Challenger 2: Length 27ft 3 x Height 8ft 2 x Width 11 ft 6
Scout SV: Length: 25ft x Height: 9ft 10in x Width: 11ft

Crudely multiplying those numbers to get an approximation of volume gives the Scout SV the edge (just).

Comment: Re:Slashvertisment (Score 1) 63

Yes, and I had read that before posting my comment. I want to believe, but find it harder to do so recently. To state the obvious: Dice have a credibility problem with some of the slashdot crowd. They need to go out of their way to avoid the *appearance* of paid-for-journalism. IMHO they didn't get this one right. However well intentioned it may or may not have been; it doesn't *appear* to be well intentioned. It's not the first time, and I dare say it won't be the last. They should be worried when their audience stops calling them out on it because we'll have given up caring at that point. I don't want to give up caring, but sometimes they make it hard.

Comment: Crashy (Score 3, Interesting) 237

by tomalpha (#42043497) Attached to: Meg Whitman Says HP Was Defrauded By Autonomy; HP Stock Plunges
I remember waybackwhen I last used Autonomy's categorisation and search engine. It wasn't very reliable and I never thought it did a very good job - neither the categorisation nor the searching. It always felt like a triumph of sales over engineering. I was amazed at the sale price to HP when it happened. Maybe this is something different, but somehow it rings true.

Comment: Innovation (Score 5, Insightful) 105

by tomalpha (#41930211) Attached to: The Island of Lost Apple Products
This isn't a bad thing. Good companies (not just apple) take risks and try out new things. It only takes one in ten to be a good product, and one in twenty to be a great product to keep the company going. The trick is to make sure they're not *too* ludicrous before you launch them, and if they don't work out, make sure you realise this quickly and fail fast If you don't keep moving and innovate, some other bugger out there will and you'll get left behind. I'm looking at you Microsoft. [standard imnotafanbois disclaimer; believe what you will; ymmv]

Comment: Re:What? (Score 2) 206

by tomalpha (#40923867) Attached to: How To Watch Internet TV Across International Borders

I pay my TV licence (ok TV tax) in the UK gladly.

The BBC is one of the few things I think we do well in the world - the journalism and news reporting is beyond world class - it's world beating. Impartial reporting, truly global coverage. That can be hard to believe sitting in England, but as soon as you spend long enough abroad to try any other country it makes you appreciate how good the Beeb really is. Just try any southern-mediterranean broadcaster, Chinese state television, Russian state television, Fox News in the US (ok extreme example, but the rest of the local and national US news is also worth taking a look at while you're visiting) and compare it with the Beeb. It's simply in a different class.

This may come across as slightly anti US-TV. It's not meant to be, but you've gotten me angry and ranting now. It is meant to be scornful of someone stealing content from my favourite broadcaster, and because I have paid for it: stealing from me. Now get off my lawn, persuade your native/adopted/temporarily-visiting country to get better television, and get a pro-piracy story off the front page of slashdot.

Comment: He was never a programmer (Score 5, Informative) 120

by tomalpha (#38624096) Attached to: NYC Mayor Bloomberg Vows To Learn To Code In 2012
Mike Bloomberg was always the business/sales guy at the company. Tom Secunda was (one of the) original programmer of the first terminals. That was all in Fortran back then. A fair chunk of it probably still is. You can read this and oh so much more in his not-very-gripping autobiography, which was required reading for all team leads and managers at Bloomberg. [Ex Bloomberger].

What is mind? No matter. What is matter? Never mind. -- Thomas Hewitt Key, 1799-1875

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