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Comment Effectiveness trumps morality every time. (Score 4, Insightful) 275

I don't mean to be the dark figure in this conversation, but I think it's inevitable that robots will be used on the battlefield, just like people are going to continue to use cluster bombs, land mines, dum-dum bullets and other horrible devices. The reason is that they're effective.

War is a measurement of who is most effective at holding territory. It is often fought between uneven sides, for example the Iraqi army in their 40-year-old tanks going out against the American Apaches who promptly slaughtered them. Sometimes, there are seeming upsets but often there's an uneven balance behind the scenes there as well.

Robots are going to make it to the battlefield because they are effective not as killing machines, but as defensive machines. They're an improvement over land mines, actually. The reason for this is that you can programmatically define "defense" where offense is going to require more complexity.

Already South Korean is deploying robotic machine gun-equipped sentries on its border. Why put a human out there to die from sniper fire when you can have armored robots watching the whole border?

Eventually, robots may make it to offensive roles. I think this is more dubious because avoiding friendly fire is difficult, and using transponders just gives the enemy homing beacons. In the meantime, they'll make it to the battlefield, no matter how many teary people sign petitions and throw flowers at them.

Google

Submission + - DRM Lawsuit Filed By Independent Bookstores Against Amazon, 'Big Six' Publishers (huffingtonpost.com)

concealment writes: "Three independent bookstores are taking Amazon and the so-called Big Six publishers (Random House, Penguin, Hachette, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster and Macmillan) to court in an attempt to level the playing field for book retailers. If successful, the lawsuit could completely change how ebooks are sold.

The class-action complaint, filed in New York on Feb 15., claims that by entering into confidential agreements with the Big Six publishers, who control approximately 60 percent of print book revenue in the U.S., Amazon has created a monopoly in the marketplace that is designed to control prices and destroy independent booksellers."

Comment Wait to see what you need based on use. (Score 5, Insightful) 770

Buy nothing. Wait for a need; then research what fits it best.

You've been given an opportunity in disguise here.

Do you really want all that stuff that consumes time? Only one way to tell: wait for yourself to need it, then buy it as you determine those needs based on what you actually use.

Government

Submission + - Illinois state senator pushes anti-anonymity bill (dailycaller.com)

concealment writes: "The bill, called the Internet Posting Removal Act, is sponsored by Illinois state Sen. Ira Silverstein. It states that a “web site administrator upon request shall remove any comments posted on his or her web site by an anonymous poster unless the anonymous poster agrees to attach his or her name to the post and confirms that his or her IP address, legal name, and home address are accurate.”

The bill, which does not ask for or clarify requirements from entities requesting the comment removal, would take effect 90 days after becoming law."

Comment Room within a room. (Score 3, Interesting) 111

A real world analogy: encryption is like a room within a room.

If you were to enter a residence, and find it divided into apartments, you'd probably have to get a warrant for each locked, separately numbered door.

The real question is whether one individual can have multiple rooms within a room. If your phone and computer are encrypted, do they need a warrant for each?

Government

Submission + - FBI Files Unlock History Behind Clandestine Cellphone Tracking Tool (slate.com)

concealment writes: "Stingrays, as I’ve reported here before, are portable surveillance gadgets that can trick phones within a specific area into hopping onto a fake network. The feds call them “cell-site simulators” or “digital analyzers,” and they are sometimes also described as “IMSI catchers.” The FBI says it uses them to target criminals and help track the movements of suspects in real time, not to intercept communications. But because Stingrays by design collaterally gather data from innocent bystanders’ phones and can interrupt phone users’ service, critics say they may violate a federal communications law.

A fresh trove of FBI files on cell tracking, some marked “secret,” was published this week by the Electronic Privacy Information Center. They shed light on how, far from being a “new” tool used by the authorities to track down targets, Stingray-style technology has been in the hands of the feds since about 1995 (at least). During that time, local and state law enforcement agencies have also been able to borrow the spy equipment in “exceptional circumstances,” thanks to an order approved by former FBI Director Louis Freeh."

Comment Backfire. (Score 1) 347

Not necessarily -- big media productions already get plenty of coverage on the torrent scene, and there'll only be more users keeping torrents alive/healthy longer when people lose today's popular RS/MU/etc.-type sites and get driven back to bittorrent.

That's a good point. Cracking down on piracy may drive pirates to methods of file transmission that are even less detectable. I'm waiting for them to drive us all to darknets, when the internet will be nothing but a stream of encrypted packets with ambiguous destinations. Then what are they gonna do -- outlaw encryption?

Comment I'm not switching. (Score 5, Insightful) 295

There's a number of reasons for not switching from Windows 7.

First, it's the operating system most of us always wanted. It gets closer to a perfected version of Windows XP. It does everything we need with the software and the interface paradigms we've known for 20 years.

Second, I don't trust any new product until it has been on the market for 18 months in order to get the bugs out. Developers know why, and the reason isn't developers (generally).

Finally, I distrust trends. They blow through, take your money, and blow out the other door. I trust reliability and paradigms that are time-tested.

As a lack of positive reason, I'm not sure what Windows 8 offers that Windows 7 does not. There are improvements; they look really neat. I'd like to play with them, on some computer I'm not using for work when I have lots of spare time to play around with it.

The computer is a tool for me. I use it to achieve other ends. Thus I'm not that fascinated with the OS and want it to "just work." Windows 7 does that, or an adequate job of it at least, on a wide variety of hardware.

Comment Are we talking about that kind of data? (Score 1) 279

What if you're having legal troubles? IRS are after you? You have applications for a Betty Ford-like clinique? Tax returns? These are things that you're NOT going to be putting up on Facebook or your blog, but documents you might have to have. T

I agree. However, that sort of information should be guarded under a different principle, which is general privacy laws. No one should have access to that type of personal information unless it's signed over by the informed consumer.

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