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Comment: Re:Pretty much no service providers catch things.. (Score 1) 233

The most interesting thing (and an apparent hardware error from their side) is that this line actually made phone calls.

This is a case where you'd think their system would be able to detect that calls were being placed by a residence that had no service. Nope.

They should realise that after a call from the police about the issue. A proper customer service rep should also immediately transfer such a call to a higher level, the moment he realises that it really is the police contacting them, and that there is something going on that is seemingly impossible.

Comment: Re:"long distance" (Score 1) 233

Also, monitoring for this kind of accident is paying a lot more attention to individual customer bills and usage than I necessarily want AT&T monitoring. AT&T has already established that they cooperate extensively with monitoring US communications at NSA request, especially with the notorious "Room 641A". DO we want them collecting and acting on this kind of data?

They won't be collecting more data than before. They're collecting billing data as usual - and there's nothing wrong with that. They have to collect that data to send out the correct bills to their customers. The only difference is that they should keep an eye on what they're billing, and unusual costs racked up by customers.

This issue should have set off various flags. First of all I can't imagine there are many residential users that use this much long distance calls (or calls to the kind of premium numbers where the called party gets a share, considering the total amount of the bills - this used to be a very common thing back in the 90s/early 00s). Secondly, the far higher amount of the current bill than the previous bill, another reason for a flag.

The above are routine for credit card companies, and I never hear people complain about that. I've the same experience with my mobile provider, they contacted me when I travelled with it. It's basic consumer protection (and protection of the telco/cc issuer): your credit card is suddenly used overseas, is that you or is your card stolen? Your phone is using roaming, is that you or is your phone stolen? Same for landline providers: your are suddenly using a lot of long distance calls/premium number calls, is that intentional?

If the cost billed have any relation to actual cost made by AT&T, it means now AT&T is also out of a significant amount of cash, not even counting the bad publicity (assuming they actually care about that of course). Having basic monitoring on bills would have saved them all that.

Comment: Re:Close to owning (Score 4, Insightful) 373

by wvmarle (#49577369) Attached to: Who Owns Pre-Embryos?

If you'd say "until actual incubation of the egg in the woman's body" I'd agree. When the fertilised egg is implanted in her, either the natural way or via IVF or other artificial method, it's hers to decide whether to keep it or have it aborted or whatever. Do keep in mind that the implantation is not necessarily in the egg donor's body.

When fertilisation takes place outside of her body, as long as the egg/embryo remains outside of her body, both partners should be equally involved in what happens next. That's just sensible. If you claim the egg cell is the mother's and the mother's only, this should equally apply to the sperms being the man's and the man's only. Logic extension of this means that the combination of the two, a fertilised egg, belongs to both.

The moment the egg is implanted in a woman's body, things change: the woman who has the egg in her body should then be called the owner. Even if she's not the egg donor. I believe this part is already pretty well established when it comes to surrogate motherhood.

Comment: Results may be interesting. (Score 2) 336

by wvmarle (#49518701) Attached to: Update: No Personhood for Chimps Yet

The judicial action could force the university, which is believed to be holding the chimps, to release the primates

Release... Great idea - just tell me: how? Where?

Usually these animals are born in the lab and live in the lab until they die, or until they go to some kind of sanctuary or zoo. For obvious reasons they can't be released anywhere in the US - it's not where chimps naturally live. Even if released in natural chimp habitats, they'd die because they can't take care of themselves, or they may even get killed by the native chimps that don't like the intruders. They are simply fully dependent on their human caretakers, and need, even deserve, proper care to live out their lives peacefully.

Comment: Re:Loose procedures (Score 2) 83

by wvmarle (#49517271) Attached to: Baltimore Police Used Stingrays For Phone Tracking Over 25,000 Times

To me it is (or at least, should be) the modern equivalent of a wire tap where police investigators are listening in to someone's phone line.

For that reason it should come with the same set of checks and balances: a court warrant required (with maybe an exception for "emergency cases" which will have to be defined really well), and the requirement that only the phone for which the warrant is given can be listened in to, so no "collateral damage".

Comment: Loose procedures (Score 4, Insightful) 83

by wvmarle (#49517091) Attached to: Baltimore Police Used Stingrays For Phone Tracking Over 25,000 Times

It sounds to me like not only the police is wrong by applying for too many uses of the device (of course they do - it's their job to gather as much information about potential criminals as possible), also the courts appear to be wrong by not doing much evaluation of the requests. Now having to handle nine requests a day is a huge number as well (that's before accounting for holidays and weekends), yet no excuse for not following proper procedures.

From the face of it, the courts should be more strict. Take more time to properly evaluate each one, possibly causing a backlog, but that in turn should force the police to lower their number of requests to only the ones they believe are valid - and arguably the courts should be hiring more people to get the work done in a timely manner.

Comment: Re:What's bad about Uber drivers? (Score 2) 48

Good for you, as long as everything goes perfectly as expected you'll be fine.

But then you're involved in an accident, get hurt, and suddenly you find out that the driver's insurance won't pay out because you're a paying passenger and he doesn't have insurance coverage for that. In case of official taxis, you won't have such an issue, guaranteed. There is a reason taxi licenses and so are in place in many parts of the world, and it's not to prevent competition. It's to protect customers, and if done correctly (admittedly often not done so) can enhance competition even.

Complaints are indeed primarily about the company, and its total lack of respect for the law - indeed they often actively and intentionally break the law (like in Amsterdam). Its drivers often make less than normal taxi drivers after deduction of all their cost. Just two of the common complaints against Uber.

Comment: Re:rule of law (Score 1) 301

by wvmarle (#49503931) Attached to: Joseph Goebbels' Estate Sues Publisher Over Diary Excerpt Royalties

That's not what I said or meant.

You naturally hold the copyrights to your own work - so you can always publish it any way you like.

However if you start quoting other people's work in your own work, you may need a copyright license for those people's works - unless the quotes are so short they fall under fair use policies or so. And that appears to be the case here: the author used so much of someone else's copyrighted works (the diary of Goebbels in this case), that the copyright holders (Goebbels' estate) think it breaches copyright law, and on those grounds try to ban publication of the works in question. Simply removing/cutting down on those quotes should allow publication.

Comment: Re:Completely Open Source (Score 1) 276

by wvmarle (#49503103) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Features Would You Like In a Search Engine?

There are two issues with this.

Search indexes are very expensive to make - lots of data to download and analyse to come anywhere near reasonable coverage of what's out there. Someone has to pay for it.

The amounts of data involved are huge. By the time you're done downloading such an index, even assuming you've got sufficient storage at hand, it's horribly outdated.

There is a reason there are no recent small search start-ups: you have to be pretty big to even consider this. When Google started, the Internet was a fraction of the size it's now, and even then Google's founders could use the massive computing resources of their university. Google's index nowadays is so big that they can not search it entirely themselves: different geographical locations tend to give different search results for the exact same query, as you're searching different subsets of the database.

Comment: Re:rule of law (Score 2) 301

by wvmarle (#49502981) Attached to: Joseph Goebbels' Estate Sues Publisher Over Diary Excerpt Royalties

Research requires you to be able to buy a copy and read it, so you may use the information held in it. That's the case with lots of works out there, such as all scientific research publications. They all fall under copyright, which doesn't seem to hinder research all too much. Sure public domain and online access may be convenient, you can instead walk over to your local university library and read it there.

Copying and republishing excerpts from another work may be restricted under copyright, or may fall under fair use. This is a different matter, and still won't hinder research. Nor does it have anything to do with censorship.

The original author is just using words as "hindering research" and "censorship" to push his case, meaning to me he's probably broken copyright law and strongly feels himself he is indeed at the wrong side of the law.

Comment: Seems to be an already solved problem. (Score 1) 124

by wvmarle (#49499681) Attached to: Google Adds Handwriting Input To Android

Every day I'm on the MTR or the bus I see numerous people around me writing away on their phones. Handwriting input is the norm, not the exception. It seems to work pretty well, considering the very few corrections they have to make.

Or is recognising and distinguishing between those thousands if not tens of thousands of different Chinese characters really that much easier than the 26 letters (well, make that 52 to account for capitals) in our alphabet? I always thought they'd use handwriting input because it's so darn hard to input Chinese on a regular keyboard, let alone a mobile phone keyboard. In contrast, entering English on a mobile phone keyboard, combined with automatic corrections, works quite well for me, not as good or as fast as a real keyboard but I think I still type way faster than I could possibly write on a phone or other mobile device.

The earth is like a tiny grain of sand, only much, much heavier.