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Comment Re:Prima facie evidence? (Score 1, Interesting) 519

And if you don't comply with the audit you've supposedly agreed to, what's their recourse? They can try to sue for breach of contract... a contract that they can't actually prove you've entered into.

There's pretty much no way the BSA's tactics can actually be legal. It seems to me like they put on a big show and take on a threatening posture, hoping that you'll be convinced to let them gather the evidence they need and then pay them whatever they're asking.

A bit of common sense: can a random individual or company come into your house or place of business and demand to see proof that you're complying with a private contract?

The BSA has no law enforcement powers.

Comment Security fail (Score 2) 225

Obviously there's no legal protection for the data on your phone - not that there shouldn't be, but your privacy rights only go one way in modern society, so don't hold your breath - but where are the technical measures? We've seen that police use forensics devices that attach the data port on the phone to give them immediate and complete access to the entire file system.

There's always a tradeoff between convenience and security, and it's time cell phones at least gave you the option to choose a bit more of the latter. How about not allowing read access via the USB port when the phone is locked? That's just basic common sense, but phone manufacturers and OS vendors don't take physical security seriously yet. How about cutting power to the phone when the back cover is removed? How about having a power-on password in addition to a lock-screen password, so the phone can't simply be put into recovery mode?

On a PC I can set a BIOS password, a hard drive password, and use full disk encryption of a sort that nobody will ever be able to break. If the machine is running but locked, suspended, or hibernating, even windows will ensure that there's no way to get at my data without actually having the proper credentials. There's no way to recover my passwords or encryption keys from memory, except for the rather technical, obscure, and time-sensitive technique of physically freezing the RAM and trying to read back its contents after a reboot. Compare this to joke that passes for file system encryption on the iphone.

In a lot of ways, smartphones store more valuable data than PCs do, and yet the options for protecting that data are virtually nonexistent.

Comment Canada? (Score 1) 277

Funny, I haven't seen any bazaars filled with $1 DVDs around here, which is the sort of thing that characterizes the rest of the entries on the list (except possibly Spain).

We have a cable / satellite duopoly for broadcast TV (nobody uses free OTA here; reception is nonexistent for most) that extracts $80-100/month out of almost every Canadian household - the same duopoly that supplies broadband internet to 90% of the population. Our communications regulator is a puppet of said duopoly: it recently approved regulations that dictate that nobody may offer better or cheaper internet service than the incumbents. We have the most expensive broadband and cellular in the developed world, and it's getting more expensive rather than less: the duopoly has started charging punitive rates for overages above caps that are set so low as to make streaming video services impossible to use.

What more does the USTR want? What more does it demand that Canada do to support the content industry's bottom line? Why are American special interests so butthurt over the state of the Canadian content market?

I think I know: no private citizen has gone before a court in this country over a copyright violation. Our court system doesn't permit the procedural tricks that allow thousands of people of unknown identity to be sued. Hollywood can't stand this.

Comment lolwut (Score 2) 152

The full title of this software is actually GREEN DAM YOUTH ESCORT.

For guarding of the youth, to making safe and happy social harmony. Great and capable software for glorious ten thousand year nation. Code is not stolen; developed by brilliant engineers at November 23 People's Collective Software Refinery.

Comment Re:WTF? (Score 1) 294

If the article were on CNN, I'd have said "fuck you, CNN." Anyone can write badly on things they don't understand: it's a media company's job to ensure that they employ competent staff and then review their output before it goes up for the world to see. Clearly, nobody at even proofread that article, much less verified its technical accuracy.

Comment WTF? (Score 5, Insightful) 294

Wow, that was one of the worst articles I've ever read.

"To create incredible power requires incredible energy. After all, the more power one puts into a laser accelerator, the more powerful and precise the light beam that comes out on the other end."

So to "create power" requires energy. Uh, ok... I'm with you, sort of.

"Scientists there, in coordination with the Office of Naval Research (ONR), injected a sustained 500 kilovolts (KV) of juice into a prototype accelerator where the existing limit had been 320 kV..."

OK, so they "injected" 500kV of "juice." Fuck you, fox news.

"According to ONR officials, that laser beam will eventually perform at a staggering âoemegawatt class,â a measure of the laser's strength. Right now, the accelerator at Jefferson Lab is performing at just 14 Kilowatts."

So wait, the power output of this thing is actually 14kW, and the goal of the program is to reach 1MW. But apparently they were at 10kW four years ago... so what's this article actually about? The fact that they increased the voltage to 500kV from the previous 320kV? Why does that matter?

"Today, Neil and others have shown that they have the ability to harness super-conducting electron power."

Oh ok, I guess the big development here is that they're using superconductors... or something. It's tough to tell, because "super-conducting electron power" is a series of words that, when strung together, don't mean a fucking thing.

"Clearly, the day's events were a feather in everyoneâ(TM)s cap."


Comment Re:rural Canada (Score 1) 433

You have *satellite* internet access. That means there's a $50M machine in geosync orbit serving you porn and tech news.

Despite this insane cost, which the owner has to recover on the backs of just a few thousand rural subscribers, there's a finite and very limited amount of bandwidth on that bird. That isn't because they hate you and want to make your life difficult, but rather because of the laws of physics: how much signal you can transmit depends on the SNR and the frequency of the link.

Even with modern spot-beam technology, a few megabits of throughput has to service thousands of square miles.

Now you may bitch and complain that you can't get wireline broadband, and that's a different matter, but don't complain about the caps and limits on your satellite connection. They're not just arbitrary and punitive like they are on wireline broadband.

For what it's worth, you can get a dedicated satellite connection... I've seen such a setup. 1.5 mbit up/down delivered over two meter-wide C-band dishes, and probably $10,000 / month. That's what real dedicated sat service costs. You should probably be thankful you can get any at all for $150/month.

Comment Re:You are making the Baby Jesus Cry (Score 2) 424

Symbian on Nokia is goddamn awful; as the owner of an E72, I know.

Illogical and bizarre menu layout and options, features not working out of the box (SIP support, anyone? good luck with that), neutered hardware (128MB of RAM, same as its predecessor from two years prior), miserably broken connection management (use wifi when available, cellular when not... that should NOT be hard, nor should it be something I have to configure on a per-application basis), an inbox/outbox/sent/drafts folder system for SMS messages (like phones had ten years ago), no meaningful app development from anyone but nokia themselves... I could go on.

Suffice it to say that Symbian is a handset OS dating back to monochrome displays and the original GSM spec, hacked and hacked to look, superficially, like something modern.

The only positive thing I can say about my phone is that it's a bluetooth cellular modem right out of the box.

It doesn't even do properly the things it was advertised as doing, to say nothing of the impressive things that third party software lets android or even apple phones do.

Nokia got it's last dollar out of me with the E72; I don't care what they make after this, pure spite will keep me from ever buying it.

Comment Never... (Score 5, Insightful) 606

Never. Not unless the cost of energy drops an order of magnitude below what oil costs today... and not just any kind of energy, but energy in a transportable, reasonably safe, high-density carrier.

It's not happening. All signs point to a future of ever-increasing liquid fuel prices. Electricity still has the potential to be cheap if we could achieve a significant reduction in the cost of nuclear or concentrated solar power through type-certification and mass production, but that's not going to help fly aircraft unless it's paired with an electricity storage device an order of magnitude denser than the best chemical batteries.

Comment Re:Oh My... (Score 1) 604

Part of the reason why investors demand constant growth from a company is that so many - Dell included - don't pay dividends. In the absence of those, the only reason to hold shares in a company is the expectation of higher future value.

Dell has been around for over two decades. At some point it became obvious that they weren't going to take over the world: their growth had peaked. They weren't going to completely crush the consumer / business desktop computing competition, and they weren't going to enter other markets in a meaningful way... so why didn't they start disbursing the profits of their business to the owners of the company?

This has only tangential relevance to the whole bad-capacitor issue: I'm more taking issue with your assertion that companies have to compromise their core values and strengths in search of endless growth. There's another option.

Comment Re:Know when (Score -1, Flamebait) 274

So you find some porn on a guy's computer, or rather, files that look like they might be porn. You then open a bunch of these, make a judgement about what might be illegal, and call the authorities.

Then you boast about it.

If you're not just another IT drone spinning a story to inflate your apparent importance, then you're the kind of asshole who ruins a man's life for having the wrong kind of video on his laptop and then feels good about what you've done.

Get fucked.

Comment 2.5 hours is basically a limit (Score 1) 454

My observation: a real laptop computer will not get more than 2.5 hours on a standard six cell 55Wh battery.

You can do better - sometimes much better - if you use some pathetically underpowered Atom or ULV Core2 processor, but then you get performance comparable to a midrange machine from three years ago.

If you actually want to do real work with a machine - half dozen apps open, including a browser with a dozen tabs and some flash - it will use about 20W. All those threads mean your CPU won't power down. 20W... I challenge anyone with a non-neutered CPU to do better.

55Wh / 20W = 2.75h.

Comment Re:People, people everywhere (Score 1) 386

The problem is that a nuclear power plant costs something like six billion dollars to build, and that "whole lot" of water it could desalinate isn't actually very much. It's a lot by the standards of residential and even some industrial users, but it's mind-boggling how much water is required for agriculture.

Modern agriculture is completely dependent on water too cheap to meter. If farmers had to pay even a tenth of a typical residential rate, food prices would rise dramatically.

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