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Comment Sequestration is a gimmick (Score 5, Insightful) 720

The same number of dollars could have been cut from specific programs in a way that would have had no noticeable impact on critical and important services. Instead, they chose to impact vital services in order to send a message to the public: "If you ask us to cut budgets, we'll do it in the most painful way possible." It's nothing more than an enormous "fuck you" to the American public.

Comment Re:Enhance it and zoom in (Score 5, Insightful) 235

License plates are a special case. They only have letters and numbers on them. The resolution of a camera may be too low for image processing software to extract an arbitrary image from it. But the fact that it is a license plate gives the algorithm prior knowledge which may help it extract the most likely plate number even if an arbitrary image can't be recognized.

Comment Re:How do they test for this? (Score 1) 461

Let's say each MoC gets 200 letters per day -- a reasonable estimate based on some quick Googling. 535 members times 200 letters equals 107000 pieces of mail per day.

Suppose you pay some worker minimum wage to screen mail. They spend on average 20 seconds examining each piece of mail. That's 594 man-hours per day. Minimum wage in DC is $8.25 per hour. So, $4900 per day to screen the mail, just for labor costs.

$4900 per day is a pretty solid base estimate. On top of that, there are costs associated with enhanced checking for "suspicious" items. Assume 1 in 1000 items is deemed suspicious and undergoes extensive chemical testing at a cost of $50 (that's being generous). That's $5350 additional per day. A total of $10,250 per day to check the mail. 52 weeks a year, 6 days a week of mail is 312 days per year. Total cost per year is therefore $3.2 million.

Don't you think such an expenditure is completely idiotic? For one thing, the system can fail, despite all your checks. Something could slip through. On the other hand, you could, for a small fraction of that money, design and implement a robotic system which automatically opens the mail, digitally scans it, and transmits it to the MoC in the form of a PDF. 0% chance of failure, as well as much much cheaper.

Comment How do they test for this? (Score 3, Insightful) 461

Are we seriously testing all mail coming to members of Congress for poisons? How the hell is this accomplished in a reasonable amount of time, with reasonable accuracy, and how much is it costing us?

How about we build a robot that opens the mail, scans the pages into digital form, and skip all that ludicrous bullshit?

Comment Re:Barbara Streisand effect... (Score 4, Interesting) 197

A bigger pity that Google will get down on their knees and deepthroat the MPAA like a good little whore.

Your perspective is skewed. Google isn't doing this because the *AA asks them to, they are doing it because it is the law.

If the *AA's get out of hand, Google could easily just buy the entire industry. Every single one of those companies. With cash. Several times over. You don't seem to understand the amount of money Google has. They aren't kowtowing to private corporate interests at this point, they are simply doing what the law requires them to do. If you get a take-down notice, you have to take it down. If the *AA's begin to make the world suck too bad for Google, they could just purchase them and eradicate all of it.

Comment Re:Fork handed-ness (Score 1) 260

I find the idea of a rule for which hand holds the fork to be patently ridiculous. Table manners to me means "use a fork."

When eating salad, I usually hold the fork in the right. When eating steak, I hold it in the left, because the right is occupied holding a knife. As long as I'm not eating with my fingers, I figure I'm doing okay.

Comment Re:Don't even try (Score 3, Interesting) 687

The purpose of the serial, in my mind, is not to prevent piracy but to identify the customer for purposes of support, enabling feature sets, etc. Basically, to register the product.

As a legitimate user, I *like* seeing my name show up in the "About this software" dialog box, along with information about the particular set of features I have purchased, info on how long my support contract is valid for, etc. I am not at all annoyed by it.

Comment Re:Don't even try (Score 1) 687

What do you do when need or even want something that does have DRM? Pirate it?

I go without. I don't play games, so that removes a whole world of personal conflict.

It occurs to me that I wasn't quite accurate. I pay for streaming video services, so I suppose DRM is involved there. But unlike the DRM I've heard of in software, I've never had usability problems due to that, and I'm okay with paying a monthly fee for streaming as opposed to owning the content outright. But for stuff I actually buy to own, I won't do it if there's DRM.

Comment Re:Don't even try (Score 4, Interesting) 687

Any DRM would only inconvenience legitimate customers.

As a customer who won't buy DRM-protected stuff, I don't consider the simple act of entering a license key to be DRM... What do you think? As long as the validation of the key happens locally, I don't mind doing this. In a way, it makes the purchase feel a bit more personalized.

Yeah, I know the license validation can be hacked around. That's not the point, it's kind of like signing your signature to something. I can forge someone else's signature, but I know I'm being dishonest if I do that.

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