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Submission + - Why China Banned Windows 8 (

An anonymous reader writes: Microsoft's decision to stop supporting Windows XP (still the OS of choice in China) provided an extra push for China to wean itself off dependence on foreign tech giants. The banning of Windows 8 on government computers is supposed to create a new market for domestic Chinese operating systems-- but there's a long way to go.

Submission + - Facebook Wants To Listen In On What You're Doing ( 2

SonicSpike writes: Facebook is rolling out a new feature for its smartphone app that can turn on users’ microphones and listen to what’s happening around them to identify songs playing or television being watched. The pay-off for users in allowing Facebook to eavesdrop is that the social giant will be able to add a little tag to their status update that says they’re watching an episode of Games of Thrones as they sound off on their happiness (or despair) about the rise in background sex on TV these days.

The feature is an optional one, something the company emphasizes in its announcement. The tech giant does seem well-aware that in these days of Snowden surveillance revelations, people might not be too keen for Facebook to take control of their smartphone’s mic and start listening in on them by default. It’s only rolling out the feature in the U.S. and a product PR person emphasized repeatedly that no recording is being stored, only “code.” “We’re not recording audio or sound and sending it to Facebook or its servers,” says Facebook spokesperson Momo Zhou. “We turn the audio it hears into a code — code that is not reversible into audio — and then we match it against a database of code.”

Comment Re:Bullshit (Score 1) 216

There's no offer, there's no consideration, and there's no acceptance - there isn't even an offer *of* anything.

I know you didn't read TFA, but you could have at least read the summary:

...if they download coupons, or 'join' it in social media communities.

Coupons constitute something of value (consideration). Arguably, so do membership and participation in the social media communities. General Mills is offering those to users; the users accept when they click OK to join or download.

Just because they're of little value doesn't mean they're not consideration. Courts generally will not look to determine whether the consideration is adequate; it's up to the contracting parties to make that decision.

Comment Re:Possibly Worse Than That (Score 4, Informative) 216

Contracts have to be negotiated and signed by two parties to be valid. You have to have an opportunity to modify the terms before exchanging money. Buying commodities doesn't meet that standard. Neither do post-purchase EULAs.

This is patently untrue, on many points.

First, there is generally no requirement that contracts be signed, or even in writing. A very few types of contracts are governed by the Statute of Frauds, which specifies that there must be a writing signed by the party against whom a term is being used. The specifics vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but the linked Wikipedia article is reasonably representative. Outside the Statute of Frauds, there's nothing wrong with an unsigned, or even oral, contract.

Second, you do not have to have the opportunity to modify terms period, let alone before exchanging money. Terms may be offered on a "take it or leave it" basis; the Uniform Commercial Code, section 2-207 provides for how negotiation happens, and expressly includes an option to forbid any alternate terms. At common law, the principle is the same: there need not be an opportunity to make a counteroffer.

In this context, it would be entirely unreasonable for us to assume that respondents -- or any other cruise passenger -- would negotiate with petitioner the terms of a forum-selection clause in an ordinary commercial cruise ticket. Common sense dictates that a ticket of this kind will be a form contract the terms of which are not subject to negotiation, and that an individual purchasing the ticket will not have bargaining parity with the cruise line.

Carnival Cruise Lines, Inc. v. Shute, 499 U.S. 585 (1991)

As to "before exchanging money," it is very common for terms to be left open at the time of acceptance and tender:

Transactions in which the exchange of money precedes the communication of detailed terms are common. Consider the purchase of insurance. The buyer goes to an agent, who explains the essentials (amount of coverage, number of years) and remits the premium to the home office, which sends back a policy. On the district judge's understanding, the terms of the policy are irrelevant because the insured paid before receiving them. Yet the device of payment, often with a "binder" (so that the insurance takes effect immediately even though the home office reserves the right to withdraw coverage later), in advance of the policy, serves buyers' interests by accelerating effectiveness and reducing transactions costs. Or consider the purchase of an airline ticket. The traveler calls the carrier or an agent, is quoted a price, reserves a seat, pays, and gets a ticket, in that order. The ticket contains elaborate terms, which the traveler can reject by canceling the reservation.

ProCD, Inc. v. Zeidenberg, 86 F.3d 1447 (7th Cir. 1996)
The ProCD opinion also cited to Carnival.

I cite specifically to ProCD because it was a post-purchase EULA case, and it directly contradicts you.

In short, every single point you made is precisely and exactly wrong.

Comment Re:Who'll spit on my burger?! (Score 2) 870

So...production increased at a rate greater than cost increased?

Yeah, it's not about actual dollars spent. It's about marginal cost: cost per unit of production. Put differently, the company increased in output more than it increased its spending; that means it's now a bigger company, in terms of market saturation, and has a greater profit, both in absolute terms and likely a greater profit margin as well.

Comment Rule of Law (Score 5, Interesting) 519

This is a good thing for anybody who believes in the rule of law. Laws should be written to clearly put those governed on notice as to what behavior is prohibited. Pervy or not, if the photographer was within the actual letter of the law, he shouldn't be be held criminally liable for doing something which was not prohibited. The solution is not to "interpret" the law to extend beyond its text; the solution is to fix the bad law.

If laws can be "interpreted" to go beyond their plain meanings, then it becomes difficult for those subject to them to figure out what is prohibited. Not only is it patently unfair to hold someone accountable for an action that wasn't listed as prohibited, there is a strong constitutional precedent for holding it "void for vagueness." See, e.g., Connally v. General Construction Co., 269 U.S. 385, 391 (1926):

[T]he terms of a penal statute [...] must be sufficiently explicit to inform those who are subject to it what conduct on their part will render them liable to its penalties and a statute which either forbids or requires the doing of an act in terms so vague that men of common intelligence must necessarily guess at its meaning and differ as to its application violates the first essential of due process of law.

Comment Re:We are ALL Temporary employees (Score 1) 287

I don't know whether this move by Dell is the equivalent of liposuction or maiming, but I suspect the latter. They've gone to all the trouble of screening and training these 15,000 people, and now they're going to throw that all away. If this is part of a plan to change their areas of business, why not spin off those sections of the company instead of destroy them? Or are they saying their hiring and planning decisions really were that poor and corrupt, and now they have to clean house?

Dell has been buying a lot of other companies lately. That tends to create substantial redundancy. Additionally, if the market is shrinking, a smaller sales force is appropriate.

Comment Re:Good idea... (Score 1) 81

What will happen is that companies will spawn off sub-contractors which do all the coding and are completely offshore entities.

For example, foocorp spawns off ABC Coders. ABC Coders just does business in one country, selling and maintaining its codebase to foocorp. Foocorp is just a customer, so if a government demands a bug bounty, they would have to go upstream to ABC Coders, and since ABC Coders does not do international business, they can give other nations the middle finger when it comes to their regulations.

If ABC is offshore, and sells to foocorp, then isn't that "international business" kind of by definition?

Comment Re:Wrong use of money these days (Score 1) 356

While they lost money on the face of it, the economy gained value, likely in excess of the $10B loss.

Debatable. Had GM gone through a proper bankruptcy, the profitable assets could have been put to more productive use in an entity run competently. We've lost the value of that opportunity. However, nobody sees that because the loss is diffused over the entire economy, as compared to a loss that would have been felt acutely by the employees who would lose their jobs in Detroit (despite the jobs that would have been gained in, say, Atlanta). One has a face now; the other doesn't, so we get bailouts instead of housecleaning.

Comment Re:Sensational Summary Session? (Score 1) 897

Gee, an officer replied to a DV call of a man beating his wife, comes in and sees a woman with a black eye and a dude that smells of whiskey* -- do we really need a jury to decide that one?

Depends. Did he really beat her, or was she filing a false report to get even with him for coming home drunk again after going home with the blonde at the bar?

How do you know? Seems like we need a trial to figure it out. Fortunately, the Constitution protects the accused's right to have one.

Comment Re:Tea Party is the mix you seek. (Score 1) 639

I'm fiscally conservative and socially liberal too [in fact I think a lot of people would be, if they took the time to think about it], but I don't think the Tea Party is a good fit. Sure, they call themselves fiscally conservative, but then they scream "keep your hands off my Medicare!" in the next breath. They're really more the "I got mine so fuck you" party.

The real tragedy that's going on here is that the Libertarians and Greens aren't capitalizing on the Tea Party and Occupy movements (respectively), and then forming a coalition.

I'll agree in part and disagree in part. I'm an informal (deliberate-lowercase) tea partier myself; I've many friends who count themselves the same. To a man, we all want to simply be left the hell alone, and are perfectly willing (nay, eager!) to give up Medicare, Social Security, etc., though we would prefer to keep the premiums we pay for those services and save/invest them for our future needs.

The media doesn't interview us, though.

The tea party is a marvelously robust and dynamic crowd, sharing many values with the occupy (again deliberate) crowd. The media and the political class like to quantize the people into easily-defined camps; as the great-grandparent poster noted, it's a multivariate problem even after simplification. You're right in complaining that the Libertarians and Greens aren't capitalizing on the movements (not respectively, as there's a fair degree of overlap), but the real problem is that the Republicans are co-opting the Tea Party (deliberate caps) movement (and, to a lesser degree, the Democrats are co-opting the Occupy movement).

The fundamental problem is--again, as GGP poster said--the reduction to a Boolean variable. Reality doesn't fit neatly into black-and-white, but black-and-white is the easiest thing for people to understand. Black or white; is or isn't; with us or against us. It's Duckspeak in its purest form. The real problem is that thinking is hard. I've known people who will spend ten hours a day doing backbreaking physical labor in the heat of an Oklahoma summer's day, but if you try to spend two minutes engaging them in thought, they give up. Thinking is harder than just about anything else man has conceived. I don't discount myself: I can run two miles and feel energized, but after a day of hard work at my terminal, sitting in a comfortable chair in an air-conditioned office, I'm ready for a beer and a good night's sleep.

I seem to be drifting. To return to the point: the real issue is that the system propagates the black-and-white myth, when reality recognizes not only shades of gray, but an entire spectrum of color. Try getting the media to report on that; there's talk of the Fairness Doctrine--try getting the babbling class to recognize that "fairness" required not one opposing commentator, but hundreds, if not thousands, all differing subtly, and most with at least some degree of validity.

Comment Re:What the hell is wrong with this country? (Score 2) 416

The majority may not be active thugs, but they are at the very least silent enablers. Look at what happened to NYPD's Adrian Schoolcraft: he secretly recorded roll call, exposing police corruption. After he let the public know the truth, several officers--including supervisory officers--concocted stories to arrest him and forcibly commit him to psychiatric care.

To the best of my knowledge, not a single one stepped up and said "hey, he's telling the truth."

Enablers, the lot of them, and that puts them squarely on the side of the wrongdoers, more interested in their positions and their paycheques than in the safety and well-being of the citizens they are sworn to serve and protect.

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