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Comment Re:In Proof Of Stupid, Look No Further (Score 1) 648

Possibly the worry from MS's point of view is that linux/BSD/etc.. won't be considered part of the market from a legal point of view. I mean I think it should be but I don't know what the law is.

A more likely answer though is the following. Linux threatens MS in particularly lucrative areas (servers and backend systems). Moreover, the unix software culture and software ecosystem means that few linux servers will run the various DB and backend MS software solutions.

Also, MS likely realizes the important role the developing world will play in software sales in the future and the threat that a totally free OS provides. OS X, MS likely assumed, would face too high a barrier to entry to ever get really popular (who wants to spend thousands on an OS that you find unfamiliar and are unsure if it can do what you need?) but that a free OS would be tried and gain a foothold.

Moreover, MS may think that linux's low desktop penetration means that it wouldn't provide much legal defense in the first place.

Comment Filters, Leases & Finances (Score 1) 1117

Alternatively one option you might want to explore is alternative financing arrangements for these computers. I mean I suspect the reason that filters are required is that these would be state owned computers.

I encourage you to think about finding a private company that would lease these computers to the students with the understanding that at the end of the lease the student or failing that the state would have the option to purchase at a specified price. This might let you make an end run around the legal requirement for filtering.

Regardless of your stance on filtering content for students this is wise for several reasons.

If you put filters on these computers then you or the school will be blamed when kids access inappropriate content. I mean after all you put the filters there to stop the kids from accessing such content so it's your failure when they do. Someone will manage to access inappropriate content (either b/c of bad filters or clever hacks) and then the program gets blamed.

On the other hand if the parents view these as simply computers provided to them as a school supply they will be more likely to assume responsibility for policing their children's behavior themselves.

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Finally, I would point out that people tend to act the way they are expected to act. If you put up a bunch of filters against looking at inappropriate content you communicate the expectation that this is what they would do without the filters and they will proceed to act in accordance with that expectation and circumvent filters.

Comment What Is It You Need? (Score 1) 1117

First of all why would you want to stop children from doing the social activities (myspace etc..) they would enjoy on a computer? Not only are they reading but they are learning to like computers, and socializing. All of these are valuable for children.

Now as for the obscenity/filtering issue things get more complicated. While a bunch of people here will tell you not to filter at all you have no legal choice and if you don't appear to be trying you risk getting shit from parents who stumble on their kids looking at porn.

As far as the filter you need to realize that no matter what you do if the kids want to get around it they will succeed!

I remember dealing with the locked down computers in the school computer lab when I was in school. Not only did I circumvent them but I of course immediately told my friends how do so and word spread to everyone who used the machines frequently. Not to toot my own horn but these weren't trivial hacks but since I didn't care (I had a computer at home) I also let the guy running the computer lab know so he could go tell the software company to patch things (made it more fun). The point is that filters will be circumvented.

Now one approach is to simply make the filters as unobtrusive as possible to minimize the incentive the kids have to circumvent it. The best you can hope for is that it's not worth the bother for anyone but the couple of wanna be computer berds at the school.

Ultimately though I suggest you talk to a lawyer and the political people at the school. This isn't a technical question. Your filters will fail, the question is what do you need to do to be legally and politically protected from any fall out if this occurs

Security

Submission + - Maliscious Scripts Found on Userscripts.org (userscripts.org)

logicnazi writes: "Several scripts on userscripts.org were recently discovered to contain malicious code. If installed the modified scripts uploaded the user's cookie information to the attacker for any page visited by the user triggering the greasemonkey script. Some users have reported that "Google Image Type Recognition", "Cookie Editor," "Gmail Conversation Preview" are among the affected scripts but no complete list is available. Details about the situation, including instructions to check if you were affected, are available here. This is unrelated to the recent downtime at userscripts.org. So is there any way to protect the average greasemonkey user from malicious scripts?"
The Internet

Submission + - AT&T CEO says to hell with network neutrality

Verteiron writes: The former CEO of AT&T, Ed Whitacre, had some interesting remarks to make about Net Neutrality during his parting speech. Choice quotes include his plans for getting anti-neutrality legislation through: "Will Congress let us do it?" Whitacre asks his colleagues. "You bet they will — cuz we don't call it cashin' in. We call it 'deregulation.' "

More information on AT&T's attitude problem and a video of the speech are available here. There's no sign that his replacement is any better.
Censorship

Submission + - Blogger Blocks Legitimate Sites in Hunt for Spam (bigdlittled.com)

Sam Machkovech writes: "Last week, a few of my favorite blogs were frozen without weekend updates. The sites were still online, though, so this wasn't a server freeze; rather, this was a result of Blogger's anti-spam robots tagging legitimate sites and locking their webmasters out. Though I only noticed this on two blogs over the weekend (music site We Shot JR and photography site The Online Photographer), I can't imagine this is an isolated incident, and the sort of sudden blocks reported on both sites seem out of line with Blogger's stated policy of warnings. From We Shot JR: 'This apparently happens to dozens of legit blogs every single day, and once a blog is locked for spam, Blogger insists that you wait for up to a week or longer in order for a human being to actually go to your blog and confirm that it isn't spam...I know, bitching about a free service is kind of stupid, but Google certainly isn't running Blogger out of the kindness of their hearts, and this 'guilty unless proven innocent' approach to security seems to go right along with Google's happy new partnership with the Chinese government. Get in where you fit in, I suppose.'"
Networking

Submission + - Don't call it "Cashing In," Call it "D (crooksandliars.com)

[Complain Here] writes: "In what might have been an unremarkable speech, AT&T chief Ed Whitacre gave a farewell address before he handed power to his replacement Randall Stephenson last Monday in which he said: "There's a problem. It's called Net Neutrality. Well, frankly, we say to hell with that. We're gonna put up some toll booths and start charging admission." He went on to boast, "Will Congress let us do it? You bet they will — 'cuz we don't call it cashin' in. We call it 'deregulation'.""

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