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Comment Re:First, Brad? What about J. T. Toys? (Score 1) 94

Perhaps it's a quibble, and of course we all favour the definition that makes our point, but I don't think that was a company created for the internet, which is what I view a dot-com as, and more a company with an existing business that made use of the internet to facilitate it. I would be curious to see reports of porn for sale via FTP, or a company that sold porn only via E-mail.

Comment Re:Tooting One's Own Horn (Score 3, Interesting) 94

I'm happy to include others claims, and I do mention a variety of other companies. But there's a pretty good chance it was the first, because the flamewars over it were pretty much assuming that, and I know I was the one to convince Steve Wolff that it would be OK to do a business over the internet sold to universities and labs. So whoever might have been doing it earlier (which is entirely possible) kept a low profile, but I would be interested to document their story. Perhaps it's a bit vain, but what of it?

The Internet

Submission + - 20th anniversary of the dawn of the dot-com (http)

btempleton writes: ""It was 20 years ago today" when I posted to USENET the public launch of ClariNet, my electronic newspaper service delivered over the internet. By finding a way around the NSFNet acceptable use policy, ClariNet was the first business founded to use the internet as its platform for business, and the era of the "dot-com" had begun. For the anniversary I have written a history of the founding of ClariNet and early internet business which outlines how it all took place.

Readers may also enjoy the included anecdote about what I term "M5" reliability, where the news system was so robust that, like the M5 computer on Star Trek, even those authorized to do so were unable to shut it off and a story of the earliest large SF eBook effort. Extra, extra, read all about it."

Comment We screwed it up (Score 1) 800

Strangely, it was the trademark lawyers who figured out, centuries ago, that ownership rights should only be given in names without inherent value, for which you create the value. Generic terms, with meaning and inherent value, can't be owned.

We should have listened to their wisdom (odd to say that) but instead we built a space where an infinite resource became scarce, because we made just one prime area, .com, for commerce, so owning was as good, or better than owning "word" -- and nobody should own words.

And thus all our domain troubles, and speculation, were born. The only way out of it would be to remove the specialness of .com, which is a lot harder to do now than in the past. If there were a modest number of equally valuable TLDs -- themselves with no special meaning, made up terms -- so that no one was inherently better than another, and so you could always find what you wanted, it would be good. But com means commercial and so will be special for decades.

Comment Re:Downfall parodies and speaking German. (Score 1) 254

I would have thought so but a surprising number of German speakers have said they still enjoy it.

On the other hand there is a Downfall parody where the characters are complaining that the subtitles are wrong, but that's fine, and why do the German speakers keep complaining about it. You were already beaten to it.

Comment Re:Bad words? (Score 1) 254

But that's the point here. Hitler is screaming and angry. Of course he would be expected to be using strong words there. While we think of Hitler as the greatest villain of the modern age, strangely, it is still funny for a subtitle to have him say fuck. So it was added. It was appropriate. It was, however, quite rare for the EFF feed, but not impossible. It was not actually in the feed anyway. So Apple was just plain silly, and we have to assume this is happening other times where we don't hear about it. That's worth understanding as we want to understand how different software ecosystems, including walled gardens, work.

Comment Re:Hey Have we not learned how to learn? (Score 1) 254

The feed only has profanity very rarely. However, it is not one that tries explicitly to remove it. In this case it was appropriate, and it was not in the feed itself, but in a video pointed to by the feed. The app was, I suppose, meant for EFF fans to let them have a little EFF app on their screen. I don't know how valuable an app that is, but it's not something to block.


Submission + - Privacy study shows Google's eyes are everywhere ( 1

BrianWCarver writes: "The San Francisco Business Times reports that researchers at UC Berkeley's School of Information have released a study and launched a website,, in which they found that web bugs from Google and its subsidiaries were found on 92 of the top 100 Web sites and 88 percent of the approximately 400,000 unique domains examined in the study. This larger data set was provided by the maintainer of a Firefox plugin called Ghostery which shows users which web bugs are on the sites they visit. The study also found that while the privacy policies of many popular websites claim that the sites do not share information with third parties, they do allow third parties to place web bugs on their sites (which collect this information directly, typically without the user's knowledge) and share with corporate "affiliates." The full report and more findings are available from their website."
Media (Apple)

Submission + - Apple bans RSS reader due to bad word in feed link (

btempleton writes: "It all started when I prepared yet another "Downfall" subtitle parody. In this one, Hitler is the studio head, upset at all the downfall parodies and he wants to do DMCA takedowns on them all. (If you're a DMCA/DRM fighting /.er, you'll like it.) The EFF, which I chair, reblogged it on Deeplinks, and hilarity ensued. That weekend, Exact Magic, an iPhone developer, had submitted a special RSS reader app to display EFF news on the iPhone. Apple's iPhone app store evaluators looked at the RSS reader, read the feed it pointed to, and then played the linked-to video.

They saw the F-word flash in the subtitles of the video, and then rejected the RSS reading tool from the App Store. We're up to several levels of meta here, as Apple has banned an app over a parody about banning, and is now parodying itself. Bonus: TFA also has the story of just how hard it is to be fully legal in obtaining the famous clip for parody."

Comment Re:It's not just what you ask for yourself (Score 1) 1092

Children are human beings. They do have rights. They have fewer rights. As they get older, they gain more. It isn't just a binary thing when they become 18 or 21. This is not about the government taking away from the rights of the parent. It's about the government protecting the rights of the child. There is a balance.

Comment It's not just what you ask for yourself (Score 3, Insightful) 1092

You're upset that your daughter was lost, and everybody understands that. But you must consider what it means to have what you ask for become a trend, and to have the infrastructure built to make it easy to do.

Perhaps when your child is 6 nobody will claim she has any rights, and you are free to lojack her. But then we will have to ask the question, when does she gain some dignity and rights, at what age does it become a bad idea for you to do this? At what age should it actually be illegal for you to do this? We have not had to ask that question until you do it.

Location services all beg the question of what to do when one person is in power over another and can demand location data. You can over your young child, and more debatably over your older child. Can employers ask it of employees? On their breaks? Can husbands ask it of wives? Not demand it, you understand, but ask, as in, "Honey, what's wrong with me knowing where you are? Think how handy it would be. Don't you trust me? Don't you love me?"

This is the world you will help build. But it gets worse. You see, there will be flaws in the system. Not just hackable security issues, but mistakes. After a custody battle, somebody will forget to turn off the non-custodial parent's access to the location data on the child. This will assist in many kidnappings. (As you may not know, the vast, vast, vast majority of kidnappings are by relatives. The random stranger that everybody is afraid of barely exists.) Perhaps not in your case, but in many people's in this world you are creating.

A better idea? Teach your child, if lost, to approach a suitable adult, and hand them a card or show them her bracelet, which has your cell phone numbers on it. We tell children not to talk to strangers, but we forget to mention that means not to talk to strangers who approach *you*. It is perfectly fine to talk to strangers the child selects for help, more than fine, it's the right thing for her to do. Or sew the number in the lining of her coat, or shoes, or lunchbox or whatever. If you really think it's bad for her to approach strangers, teach her to identify police, teachers, people in uniform etc, but tell her that if she can't find one of those to approach any nicely dressed person.

She'll be fine.

Comment A study in the power of lobbies (Score 1) 894

What's interesting here is not just the characteristics of ethanol, it's the nature of lobbies and how law is bought.

We've known that corn ethanol was a stupid idea for many years. When the ethanol industry was first challenged to run their industry on the fuel they make, and they could not do it, it was a big hint. So we learn more, and realize it is not good for the environment, not good for reducing fuel imports, bad for food prices and is wrecking cars. And what are we doing? Working on how to increase the amount used in gasoline. All the major news outlets have done articles on how corn ethanol is a big error put in place -- they've been running for years.

It should shock us that something so boneheaded can hold on, and even keep growing, for so long. We are incapable of saying, "Oh, looks like that was a mistake" and fixing it quickly. We'll probably be burning it for another 5 years. And those involved will not be punished. They just did what they thought was good for their state.


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