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Comment Re:Which is more realistic (Score 1) 945

No ISP has ever done that. Mostly because if they did so they would cease to be a common carrier and be liable for every torrent. Do you see how the system is self-regulating to prevent this issue?

Broadband ISPs are not common carriers. In fact, for the reason you point out, if they were common carriers then I believe we would effectively have net neutrality enforced (just as with phone service), and some have suggested this as a solution.


Submission + - 70% TSA Failure Rate at Some Airports (

An anonymous reader writes: Nearing the height of last year's Christmas travel season, TSA screeners at Bush Intercontinental Airport somehow missed a loaded pistol, one that was tucked away inside a carry-on computer bag.

"I mean, this is not a small gun," Seif said. "It's a .40 caliber gun."

Seif says it was an accident which he didn't realize until he arrived at his destination. He says he carries the glock for protection but forgot to remove it from his bag. He reported the incident as soon as he landed, shocked at the security lapse.

"There's nothing else in there. How can you miss it? You cannot miss it," Seif said.

Authorities tell ABC News the incident is not uncommon, but how often it occurs is a closely guarded government secret. Experts say every year since the September 11 attacks, federal agencies have conducted random, covert tests of airport security.

A person briefed on the latest tests tells ABC News the failure rate approaches 70 percent at some major airports. Two weeks ago, TSA's new director said every test gun, bomb part or knife got past screeners at some airports.

Comment Re:No kidding (Score 1) 1065

The correct decision depends on the numbers. If enough accidents are caused by cell phone use while driving, and you can effectively stop that cell phone use, then you may save more lives than are lost by people in accidents not being able to use their cell phones. I don't know what the numbers are, and in fact I wouldn't be surprised if there aren't really reliable numbers on cell phones as a cause of accidents (seems like that could he hard to determine accurately).

That being said, the decision between those two choices may be a false dichotomy; there might be a 3rd way that's better than both. And even if a cell phone blocking measure did net good, good luck to the politician trying to explain that when some mother of 3 dies trapped in her crashed car because she couldn't call 911. Of course, it shouldn't be so hard to make any jamming device turn off when, say, the airbags deploy.

I generally find the idea of not being able to use my phone, mobile broadband device, etc. when I'm a passenger pretty annoying. It seems like a overly broad approach to the problem. I also wonder what about all the other devices that distract drivers, like navigation systems. Will this really change the level of distraction or just change which things people are distracted by. Still, if the numbers tell us that enough lives will be saved, it's hard to argue against that (given that this is not really a fundamental issue of liberty or something).

Comment Re:4th Amendment (Score 1) 559

The fact that they disagree with you on the interpretation of one of the amendments doesn't really constitute an agenda. But in any case, I always find this objection to make little sense. Do you support the many civil rights they do vigorously defend? They are often defending your 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 8th amendment rights. For me this would be reason enough to support them, even leaving aside the 2nd amendment.

Then you have to take into account the fact that there is another organization, the NRA, that exists largely for the purpose of protecting the 2nd amendment, and it is one of the best funded and most influential lobbying groups in the country. A quick Google search suggests that the NRA has an annual budget of over $200M while the ACLU has a budget of something like $60-80M. The NRA has apparently often been ranked by members of congress as the most influential lobbying group. In that context, it would be absolutely crazy for the ACLU to spend money defending the 2nd amendment (even if they supported your interpretation), when they have all the other constitutional rights to defend. In view of this reality, it really makes no sense to me to use the 2nd amendment as a reason not to support the ACLU.

Comment Re:Control (Score 1) 417

As a long-time Linux user, I certainly have my own gripes about Linux as a desktop OS, but a lot of these criticisms you're bringing up don't ring so true in my experience.

I've been using Linux for about 10 years now, and using it as my primary desktop for probably about 8. I'm definitely a geek, but I'm not a serious programmer nor a hard core computer nerd. In all that time, I think I've recompiled the kernel once many years ago (maybe 6-8 years ago), and in that case I was using the tools provided with the kernel source deb, so it was pretty easy. I can think of one other instance (probably 2-3 years ago) where I had to compile kernel modules for some hardware that was pretty new and not yet supported in the kernel. It was annoying but relatively easy, and I only had to do it a few times before the drivers started being included by default. Now, it's not really desirable to have to do any of that, but spread out over 8 or so years that's really a pretty minimal amount of extra work for anyone with a bent toward computers. People always make it sound like you have to recompile the kernel every few months, and that has never been my experience, so I always assume they're talking about the early days before I was really using Linux.

As for the easy of use issues: My girlfriend is a life long Mac user. Several of my friends had Macs. I find there are some things that are easy for them and hard for me, but then there are some things that are a pain for then and trivial for me. There have certainly been times where a Mac user can view some media that I can't play or will get much better performance playing it, but there have also been times where they can't play some video file that mplayer has no problem with. There is hardware that I can use for lack of drivers, but just the other day my gf got some bar code scanner she couldn't get to work with OS X that was plug and play on my Ubuntu machine. It's probably true that on balance you'll have more issues with Linux, but I haven't found it to be night-and-day the way it's often described.

In more general terms, I have yet to see an OS for a general purpose computer (i.e., something that's not dedicated or a specialized piece of consumer electronics) that can be accurately described by the slogan, "It just works!" To quote the Dread Pirate Roberts, "Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something." I've seen Macs, especially notebooks, with all manner of weird malfunctions. Again, it could be that statistically they're better than other computers (although I doubt it for the notebooks), but it's not night-and-day.

I can see reasons to use a Mac (or Windows), but for me they would come down to more supported hardware and software. Most of the other criticisms had not loomed large in my experience as a (layman) user.

Comment Stability (Score 4, Interesting) 188

On the XBox 360 I'd simply take a client was a bit more stable. Heck, I'd probably even be willing to put in a disk. When I use the Netflix application, trying to fast forward or reverse more than a few seconds leads to probably about a 30% chance of being kicked out of the movie and back to the screen you were on when you selected it. What's more, it seems that most of the time this happens the software loses all record of where you were in the movie.

I'm shocked that the player could have such a basic usability problem on known (locked down) hardware used by so many people. Hardware, I might add, where you have to be signed up for an extra pay service (XBox Live gold) in addition to your Netflix subscription and Internet service just to be able to watch the streaming movies.

Comment Re:Friend "wrote something stupid" (Score 1) 851

Yes, it's not as though the second most deadly domestic terrorist attack in US history was perpetrated by two white guys or something.

There are a number of factors you could look at the narrow down a field of terrorism suspects. Race is probably not a very predictive one. If a law enforcement agency is using it as any high-priority criterion their methodology is probably pretty hopeless.

Comment Re:Humans are so fragile...if only we were hardier (Score 1) 575

(Posted from the year 2089, see you guys soon! The future is great, but the space-beer is a little watered down.) Yankees win in 66, America is nuked by Eskimos in 70, and 89 is to be the year of the Linux holodeck neural interface.)

It must be hard to file a bug report when the programs are busily trying to kill you.

Comment Re:More detail... (Score 1) 390

I guess this paragraph from the DSCP article sort of addresses my question:

Diffserv operation only works if the boundary hosts honour the policy agreed upon. However, this assumption is naive[citation needed]. A host can always tag its own traffic with a higher precedence, even though the traffic doesn't qualify to be handled with that importance. This in fact has already been exploited: Microsoft Windows 2000 always tags its traffic with IP precedence 5[citation needed], making the traffic classing useless. On the other hand, the network is usually quite within its rights to traffic shape and otherwise ration the amount of network traffic ingress with any particular precedence[citation needed], and so where this is enforced, overall network traffic flow provided to a host could be reduced by such a tactic.

I'm not sure I quite understand how the rationing (mentioned in the last sentence) would work, though.

Comment Re:More detail... (Score 1) 390

Wow, an informative and polite response. I'm confused, I was sure I was posting on Slashdot.

Having read the Wiki article on TOS (and skimmed the one on DSCP) the thing I'm still missing is how these cope with dishonesty/selfishness. In other words, what stops an inconsiderate application or user who is sharing a pipe with others from simply marking all packets as highest priority, low latency, high throughput, etc? While latency is certainly more important to gaming than web browsing, I don't see what's to stop user A setting his web browser's packets to request low latency to marginally improve his experience at the expense of user B who is trying to play an online game. It could be I'm still missing the point of how this byte is set and used.

Comment Re:"Journalism" today (Score 1) 602

Yes. It's also why, as an American myself, I get news about my own country from foreign sources. Generally Canada and the BBC

Can't speak about the CBC, but I find the BBC to be pretty superficial in a lot of cases (although they're hard to beat in TV/radio for breadth of international coverage). I think the first thing is to recognize TV is completely hopeless and radio is mostly hopeless. Most decent journalism is in print. As far as audio/visual news, I've found NPR has the best coverage of US news; many stories are relatively detailed and fact-oriented, and they do a decent job of separating editorial and news. Most importantly, they don't assume their audience is peopled entirely by morons.

Comment Re:More detail... (Score 1) 390

My knowledge of the low-level functioning of the Internet (or IP networks in general) is limited, but perhaps you or someone else could clarify the following:

Clearly there are certain uses of the network where only bandwidth is really important (e.g., bittorrent), some where latency is important (e.g., gaming), and some where additionally jitter is important (e.g., VIOP). Clearly as a result of this users would in many cases be better off if packets were handled in such as way that the more sensitive sort of connections were prioritized at the expense of the less sensitive ones. However, if the network operators decide what sorts of connections become prioritized this will put them in a position to prefer some sorts of activities to others. Newer, less common, or non-commercially developed protocols will tend to lose out (if for no other reason than lack of familiarity), and network operators will be in a position to give preference to, say, streaming video from a website over, say, streaming video from some peer-to-peer media streaming protocol. Indeed, it was protocol-based discrimination (Comcast resetting bittorrent connections) that really brought the network neutrality debate to the fore, not discrimination based on endpoints. Even leaving aside specific undesirable scenarios, the bottom line is that such a system will break what I understand to be a fundamental organizing principle of the Internet, that it should be dumb pipes connecting smart nodes who decide how best to use the network. With network operators deciding the priority of different protocols, they will be, in part, telling the users how they should be using the network.

It seems like in an ideal world there would be different classes of packet priorities (I think QOS is the term, maybe), but the priority of a given packet would be decided by the user. Given that higher priority would be inherently scare, in a perfect world the networks would charge a premium for higher priority packets. In this idealized scenario then the user would make all decisions about the relative importance of packets and the network would remain dumb pipes, yet you could have efficient utilization of resources. I can imagine many reasons why such a system wouldn't really work due to human factors, but could such a system work on a technical level? As I said, my knowledge of the technical side is far too limited to understand if I'm even conceptualizing the problem correctly.

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