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Comment Re:One teensy weensy difference... (Score 1) 155

In countries which implement ID cards, just knowing a person's unique ID number doesn't help a bad guy. In fact we freely give out those numbers when shopping when we need an invoice for accounting purposes, at the doctor's, for civil registry purposes (recording of marriages, children etc.), at the bank and so on. The number is just a convenient method of tracking a person in the records.

But don't confuse the number with [i]proving your identity[/i]: you have to present the card in person (it's a picture ID card); people are protective of their ID card; the cards have safety elements which make forgery very hard; there are automated verification machines (used mostly by banks and country border routine checks) which scan a card and respond back within seconds if it's valid.

So yes, identity theft is practically unheard of in Europe, in the sense it's used in the US. For example, in order to get a loan you have to show up at a bank and request it in person, physically sign a contract and wait (days) to be checked out. An impersonator would have to (a) forge an ID card; (b) forge your signature on a contract; (c) hope no word of this gets back to the actual person during the check-up period. And even if they manage all this, the laws are such that once it's proven it wasn't you, you're completely off the hook.

Comment Re:One teensy weensy difference... (Score 2) 155

Phonebooks were generally only easily available in the area you lived in and not accessable by Vlad in Minsk who wants to collect as much data as he can on you to impersonate you to a bank. Not only that , but once data is on a computer a lot of things can be automated.

So if I get this right, your solution to the fact that the US has a major identity theft problem is "would everybody be so kind and ignore it", or perhaps "bad guys, please don't use computers"? I'm afraid it may not work very well.

I'm not even sure what's with the American paranoia against unique ID cards. It's not like not having them grants you any anonimity. If anybody (including your .gov) wants to find stuff out about you, they do. You already have unique social numbers, so all the worse parts of being uniquely identifiable in a centralized database are already happening. You're just missing out on all the good parts, such as limiting identity theft, or a comprehensive civil registry. I mean, it's ridiculous that in the US you can't really prove you've never been married.

Comment Re:Phonebook (Score 4, Interesting) 155

You probably don't remember this, but when you first started using the Facebook application on your phone you had to confirm your phone number. You probably got a text with a code you had to enter or something like that.

You can remove the number, as you noticed, but I'd be really skeptical whether they actually remove it. I suspect they don't, since it's a great way of tracking people across multiple accounts. As you experienced yourself, people often forget that they made Facebook aware of their personal phone number at some point in time.

Consider for example the case of someone who becomes more privacy-aware, closes their initial FB account then later opens another when where he is more guarded about who he friends and what he publishes. And he thinks he's leaving less of an online footprint... when in reality I bet FB is tying it all in with his previous account.

Comment Re:Somewhat fair (Score 1) 286

that's when I started to feel maybe it's time for some civil disobedience.

Alright, but remember that civil disobedience also means you accept the punishment if you're caught, in order to make a stand and expose an unfair law.

If you break the law but expect to go unpunished then it's not civil disobedience, it's just freeloading.

Comment Re:Driver's education (Score 1) 1651

In additions, drivers are always held responsible in accidents invoolving bicycles.

No, they aren't. The strict liability law you are referring to is about civil liability, not criminal liability. The police will determine who is at fault and will fine/prosecute whoever it was, including the cyclist. The strict liability is mainly about insurance; there is indeed a default assumption there that the driver is at fault, but only until the driver can prove (usually with the help of the Police) that it was not his/her fault.

Do not rely on this law to protect you be an asshole cyclist because it will NOT help.

Comment Re:But that's not the real problem. (Score 1) 1651

You haven't understood what "fault" means. It's called "strict liability". A lot of people (even Dutch) assume that it's some kind of very powerful law that protects cyclists. They are wrong.

1. It's not a criminal liability, only civil liability. It's mainly for insurance ie. the driver is cut access to insurance coverage when they hit a cyclist until they prove they couldn't have prevented it. It has nothing to do with legal prosecution.

2. Even if it was about criminal liability, it's debatable whether it would be a deterrent to driving dangerously. There are punishments in place for all kinds of activities, they haven't eliminated those activities.

Read more here.

Comment Re:But that's not the real problem. (Score 1) 1651

Proper instructions are key to making roads safe.

There are no special instructions for drivers in Copenhagen or Amsterdam. The big secret is: physical separation of bike routes. The bike lanes are spacious and always very well delimited from both car traffic and pedestrian traffic. Mixing of bike traffic and car or pedestrian traffic is reduced as much as possible. Where they intersect there are of course traffic lights. That's all. The rest follows naturally; drivers, cyclists and pedestrians all do their own thing on their own dedicated lanes.

Comment Re:Downloading, or uploading? (Score 1) 157

You're right, wrong example.

Here's the proper example: it wasn't that person's picture. He had no rights to distribute it. Under the normal laws, only that person is at fault. Under this kind of law, all the people who downloaded it would be too. And that just ain't right. It leaves everybody open to entirely too many problems, it becomes impossible to do much on the web without constant fear.

Comment Re:Bittorrent uploading illegal in NL (Score 2) 157

I don't see the comparison with fragments of literary works as being valid. Coherent pieces from a text are usable on their own. But 2 random pieces from a movie file are useless. Can they really claim that the sharer harmed the rights holder by distributing pieces which are unusable? I just don't see it standing for one file-sharer alone, in the absence of all the others who together made available the whole file.

Comment Re:Downloading, or uploading? (Score 4, Insightful) 157

You don't even have to go that far. Criminalizing downloading is insane. It doesn't make sense, it cannot work. Example: someone posts a picture of their cat on any website, without mentioning distribution terms, anybody who downloads that picture is automatically at fault.

This is why I suspect this EU thing is not a blanket "let's get all downloaders" thing, but a rather more subtle approach.

You have to understand that in EU, not just in Netherlands but many countries, downloading is currently legal, period. What the law punishes is distribution ie. making available, uploading etc. But you can't go after uploaders who use protocols like BitTorrent, because any of them taken individually (usually) only upload pieces of files, not entire files. In order to be able to prosecute anybody for one download you'd have to keep track of all the IP's that provided all the file pieces, then identify the people behind them, then prove intent and knowledge of what they were doing, then prove collusion to break the law.

Given the privacy laws of most EU countries this is simply impossible. It won't even get past identifying people behind IP's, let alone seizing evidence to prove intent, knowledge and collusion. It's a chicken and egg problem: you need identities and evidence to prove they did something wrong, but you can't get identities and evidence until you prove it.

So I expect that this thing is about relaxing copyright and/or privacy laws so it allows media companies to get warrants for people that engage in certain "obvious" file sharing activities, on the downloading side, so they can identify them and get evidence. Even so, I'm not 100% sure how it would work. Simple participation in a BT swarm doesn't mean you get even a single file, and if you do you still have to prove intent and knowledge before you get your warrant. And if they hope to get warrants without proof... that opens a very big can of worms.

Comment Re:So that means hatred forever is ok? (Score 0) 306

You know the US has had some countries it has had a beef with in the past. The UK, Germany, Japan, and so on. You might want to examine their reaction, their relations these days.

When's the last time US has been nasty to any of those countries? And when's the last time it did something that Iran resented? I think it was a bit more recent than 1945 or 1783.

Stuxnet was a cyber-attack on Iran and now they strike back. Whether Stuxnet was really deployed by the US is irrelevant at this point. Iran is lashing out at who's been doing the most threatening noises.

Comment Re:By all means, bring on the lawsuits. More, more (Score 1) 283

With any luck, this tangled web of patent wars will go on for so long, and reach such an intensity, that legislatures will finally recognize the problems with current patent laws.

The courts have already been swamped with stupid laws and rigid applications of stupid laws and all kinds of parties insisting to reach trial instead of settling things outside the court. It still hasn't made Americans review their approach and turn to mediation instead of litigation.

In other countries they do what they can to keep the courts for really important stuff. In Japan they teach street cops to mediate disputes between people so they don't end up in court -- stuff like "his dog pees on my lawn" gets solved right at the source this way. In the EU they have national organizations protecting consumer rights so people will call on them when they have a problem with a product or service they bought instead of, again, ending up in court. And so on.

I don't believe the US doesn't have any mediation options, so I suspect they're either not very well known, not effective, or there's some cultural bias preventing people from using them.

Comment Re:What's the definition of an extremist? (Score 0) 402

Whoa, there. Careful with this line of thought. I mean, what's next, arguing that if one who owns reading material about bombs is not necessarily a terrorist, then one who owns naked kiddy pics is not necessarily a pedophile? Or that the ownership of said material, in itself, without acting on it, is not enough for punishment? Come on, think of the children, please. It's obvious that people who read about terrorist topics intend to commit it, just like it's been proven without a doubt that the degenerates who own naked kiddy pics will invariably go out and molest little children. I don't have the exact figures or a study at hand right now, but come on, it makes perfect sense, it's like doubting the sky is blue.

Comment Re:Any editor + firebug (Score 1) 300

Your basic idea is that "it's not needed but it helps". Guess what, WYSIWYG HTML editors don't help. They try to do both graphical editing (best relegated to an actual graphical editor) and know HTML+CSS (best relegated to a human) and make a mess of both. People who rely on them are trapped in a pathetic limbo halfway from getting either right.

Comment Re:No such animal? (Score 1) 300

It really is disappointing that no one has an answer to Dreamweaver though. I've been searching for an alternative for years.

Maybe you should have used those years to learn HTML and CSS. By which I mean learning things like the CSS box model and being able to implement designs using a simple text editor.

Once you do that you can implement any design starting from a mockup made in whatever graphical editor you want. AND you will understand what's going on there, and be able to make stuff that's simply impossible for any HTML WYSIWYG editor ever made.

The editors have their place for a competent web designer[...]

I've never met a competent web designer. Most of them come from printing backgrounds are are incapable of understanding the most basic issue: that webpages are not print, that they're supposed to reflow and change depending on browser and user preferences, they're not a poster or a leaflet. Most of them have only vague ideas about the box model and are groping in the dark for the most part, achieving the desired effects in roundabout, non-optimal ways. Most of them have no proper knowledge of CSS or HTML and rely on the editor close to 100% to supply what they don't know.

Programmers who learn HTML and CSS do a much, much better job of it, because they're used to understanding how stuff works. Unfortunately, most of programmers don't have a high artistic ability for the design part. Plus, good programmers are much more valuable writing code, not markup.

The best compromise I've seen is having designers do mockups and programmers implement them. I've never personally met the mythical beast that combines both perfectly. Stop searching for the software version of it, it's a waste of time.

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Karl's version of Parkinson's Law: Work expands to exceed the time alloted it.