Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?

Comment Re: Index it to inflation (Score 1) 619

Never ending cycle of inflation versus what alternative? Right now we have these periodic very large gas tax increases to catch up with inflation followed by years of decline in the buying power of the Highway Trust Fund. I've actually just read a bit more on the proposal and they do propose indexing it to inflation... but only after increasing the tax by 65% to catch up with inflation over the last 20 years. Basically the choice is to either have it indexed to inflation or else have these periodic hyper increases to catch up with inflation anyway.... or come up with another tax system.

Of more concern would be the proposal to introduce an expensive and intrusive open road tolling system to track all our movements and charge us a per mile tax.

We don't need open road tolling if there is a mileage tax... we all have odometers and we can read and I know at least in my state we have yearly odometer readings and odometers are read whenever cars are sold or registered, so there isn't any reason why we can't just read the odometer and pay a tax instead of having all our movements tracked by a multi-billion dollar electronic tagging system which really infringes on our privacy also.

Comment Index it to inflation (Score 5, Insightful) 619

The issue with the gas tax is that it is a fixed amount per gallon and the real value falls over time with inflation. The only way for the gas tax to keep up is to index it to inflation. Otherwise you will continue to see the Highway funds periodically getting depleted until you have to pump up the tax again. Much better to permanently index the tax to inflation rather than have these periodic increases. Of course you could argue that there are better ways to tax in order to raise transportation infrastructure funds. But if you are going to stick with the gas tax, then index it.

Comment Re:Fox News? (Score 1) 682

First there is a reasonable suspicion that there was a conspiracy to use the IRS to target groups in a partisan way. This is a serious abuse of power.

So there are two things here. First, If you destroy records that you believe could be subject to a criminal investigation then you have committed a crime. That is irregardless of any document retention policies. And people have been prosecuted for obstruction of justice when they knew or should have known that an investigation was coming and they simply instructed people to follow the document retention policy.

Second the current guideline for document retention of "transitory" emails is180 days, but for Federal Records it is much much longer. I did find a useful description of the test for whether an email is or contains a "Federal Record" under the law:

To qualify as a Federal record under the Federal Records Act, a document must pass two tests:

It is made or received in the course of business, and

It is preserved or appropriate for preservation because it is evidence of Agency activities (as described above) or has sufficient informational value to warrant preservation.

So yes assuming that the bulk of the emails were correspondence over official public business and not friends forwarding her funny cat videos, then yes there is at the very least a violation of public records law. And it would be a violation of Federal Law for the IRS not to have something in place to preserve emails... for at least 180 days even if they were all just cat videos, but they would be required to archive emails for far longer if they contain official correspondence which some of the emails most certainly did contain.

Comment Re:Fox News? (Score 4, Insightful) 682

Relying on the un-backed-up hard drive of a computer as the sole repository of official communications is complete insanity. Heads need to roll over this. They wouldn't accept this as an excuse when they're chasing after private citizens for this or for that.

Yes, not having emails backed up on a server in some sort of archive would be absurd. Government requires document retention of just about everything. Unless every email was end to end encrypted, but even then there should be good key management that would allow investigators to decrypt the emails. Just seems absurd that with all the document retention policies the government has that it wouldn't have copies of those emails someplace. Or that other government agencies or the White House wouldn't have copies of inter-agency emails. If the trail dries up it is because people want it to dry up.

The assumption now is that the White House instigated increased IRS scrutiny on groups aligned with the Tea Party which would be a very serious abuse of presidential power to use the tax collecting and police powers of the executive branch to target opposition political groups.

Nixon is rolling over in his grave... the lesson for history is if Nixon had just destroyed all the tapes he could have gotten away with his dirty tricks brigade and abuses of power.

Comment Re:Save blackberry? (Score 1) 76

Based on (non-scientific) surveys of people I meet I find that there is still a sizable demand and preference for keyboards on phones. It just happens that Blackberry owns many of the patents for keyboards on phones and is fairly restrictive with licensing those patents. And it is simply the case that the phones blackberry has made with keyboards are not competitive on other features. I'd say that 15% of the consumer market would go for a smartphone with a keyboard versus one without if all other features were pretty much equal with other top of the line smartphones. Could be more or could be less, but 15% of the consumer market would sure beat 0%.

Comment Re:Save blackberry? (Score 1) 76

A company doesn't want to be in the business of having to pay customers to take their products... loss leaders are fine if you are getting investments down the line, but the current status quo also means that government/businesses are not going to be willing to make major investments in new Blackberry technology on the business side either. It is only a matter of time before Apple and Google or their proxies catch up on meeting the particular needs of those customers.

Also, in some businesses and government circles people want to limit the kinds of apps that their employees can download on company issued phones for liability, security and cost issues. So just giving them open access to the Amazon app store is not going to cut it.

To me blackberry would offer an android phone based on their good hardware and with an integrated app suites for business and backward compatible with their infrastructure. And then offer an android app store that businesses and government themselves can set the parameters for what types of apps can be downloaded. Sure it could be based on Amazon's app store, but has to be tailorable for different business needs.

Comment Save blackberry? (Score 1) 76

When your market share in the consumer market is approximately 0% "saving" is not good, what you need to do is grow market share. So the question is whether an appstore which is as good as your competitors will grow market share for blackberry in the consumer market. And I think the answer it takes more than just being as good as your competitors in one area to gain market share. Perhaps if they just put out some decent android phones that had the old (patented) blackberry keyboard then they could regain some market share from the texters that hate on screen keyboards. That is the one feature they can offer consumers that will be better than the competition. "Saving" market share only applies to the corporate and government markets where they still have market share to lose.

Comment America pays for Tyranny. (Score 1) 70

Egypt isn't the US, but we do provide them with a lot of weapons and financial support while we hold adversaries like Iran, North Korea, Syria or even competitors like China to a different and higher standard of human rights and justify our antagonism towards those countries partly or largely based on their human rights records.

I don't expect the US to impose freedom and democracy around the world wherever we find tyranny, but neither do I want my tax dollars to be used to fund and arm tyrannical regimes like Egypt. Trade with them, okay sure. Arm them, no.

Comment Re:Competition Sucks (Score 4, Insightful) 507

Yes, if these are people who's job it is to drive people around in order to make money then that is a limousine or taxi service and it should be regulated the same way.... but $270,000 license fees sound more like glorified bribes to prevent competition than something close to a legitimate license fee.

If the taxi drivers were protesting the absurd license fees, then I would be more sympathetic.

On the other hand if part of the uber service is simply a better way of matching people for sharing the costs of carpooling and ride sharing, then that is a service that is sorely needed and really isn't a taxi or limousine service.

Comment Re:Fine ... (Score 1) 245

Shuffling around the agencies is no solution either. What we need is legal clarification from Congress and the courts that the 4th amendment really does apply within the borders of the United States of American.

Then if someone gets caught violating the constitution again they can't go and claim what they are doing is legally valid like they are doing now. The rule of law doesn't mean no one will ever break the law or violate the constitution, it means that when you get caught like the NSA got caught violating the constitution in such a blatant and massive way then there have to be some consequences and at least some shame... you can't just have everyone circling the wagons and saying the NSA or the president can do whatever they feel they need to unbounded by the law or the constitution. The law and the constitution are supposed to be a restraint on government power not a blank check to be cashed by whomever happens to pass a security background check and knows someone who knows someone in Washington.

Comment Re:Fine ... (Score 1) 245

Heck they can double the NSA budget as long as they are snooping on foreigners and not every American without a warrant. Maybe that is the compromise.... we increasa youah budget if youah stoppa snoopin' on the American people. Maybe the cost of Freedom is that we have to pay off the people who would otherwise take Freedom away from us.

Comment Re:Fine ... (Score 4, Insightful) 245

Sarcasm aside I think you make an important point... Between the “state secrets” privilege and the apparent willingness of the NSA to engage in a wholesale violation of the US Constitution and lie to congress and the courts I seriously doubt it would be remotely possible for a court to narrowly "rule on the facts" of the particular case. Rather courts are going to have to rule on the law and the probability that the NSA is violating individual liberties and then issue injunctions which give the government and the NSA and US government future instructions that the 4th amendment applies to their surveillance activities in the US despite whatever the Patriot Act might be interpreted to mean... meaning the courts will have to issue rulings based on what is permissible rather than issuing narrow injunctions against particular acts.

So for instance the court should simply rule that for the NSA to force companies to hand over business records including communications logs and the like that they need a warrant that complies with the 4th amendment and is issued: "upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized"

Comment And next... 'we need more funding for data storage (Score 1) 245

Out of one side they will argue that they can't possibly store all this massive data they are collecting. And then they will turn around and blame the courts for needing more storage to store all this data they are collecting. See we can't stop spying on the American people... the courts are making us.

Comment Re:Encryption isn't privacy (Score 2) 108

I don't disagree with the idea that some of these things might be worth doing, especially if you have intellectual property or activities that are worth protecting. Just disagree with the notion that it would be easier to get a few billion people talking with encryption than it would be to just get some politicians elected who might actually put some constitutional restraints back on the NSA and other US government agencies. Encryption is better than not having encryption, but relying on encryption when you don't have well managed keys or security in other parts of your system is what I think can lead to a screen door on a submarine mentality where you think you have a door.

Slashdot Top Deals

The only thing worse than X Windows: (X Windows) - X