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Comment Re: Backlash (Score 1) 148

This is like saying "you were hit by a car but we left you to bleed to death by the side of the road because you didn't express your preference to be scooped up and taken to hospital"

Yes, and?

When we're talking about what someone else's computer internally does with the information you choose to send to it, they liter-- uh -- analogously do have the right (and more importantly: the POWER, even if you disagree about the right) to get away with away with the attitude that you just described. If it helps, think of them as Powerful Assholes Who Have The Law On Their Side.

Sure, PAWHTLOTS are going to let most people bleed to death. The weird strange thing that happened, though, is that while they're all always free to let everyone bleed to death (whether they want to go to the hospital or not), a few of the .. shall we say.. evil-yet-honorable PAWHTLOTS said they'd take people to the hospital if those people said "I thought about it and decided I would prefer to go to the hospital" as opposed to two other choices (the other choices were "I don't care" and "I thought about it and would prefer to die").

Microsoft came out with a medical bracelet, where the "I'd rather go to the hospital" and "I don't care" part was smudged, so that people trying to read the card can't tell the difference.

If you are trying to read such a bracelet, I think you're going to say "well, they clearly don't say they'd prefer to die" and I think you're going to take that person to the hospital. But what do you predict an evil-yet-honorable PAWHTLOTS will do?

The people who invented the DNT medical bracelet thought about that last question and were very explicit that people who make bracelets should use care in making sure the bracelets don't display ambiguous information, but Microsoft blew it.

Look at it another way: we all want this bullshit to be opt-in. But we send information to trackers, where they get to decide how it works. And they want it to be opt-out. It's their computer, so they win, period. If we work within opt-out, some of us can get some of what we want. If we defy it, then we haven't opted out.

This, BTW, is half of the tracking issue. The other half of the issue is that we leak so much damn information, which is what has put so much power into the adversaries hands. And FWIW, this actual Firefox story is about that. So there's at least something to be cheerful about. I prefer technical means to dealing with the problem, but DNT was a brilliant social prong of the action too, and MS has spoiled it.

Comment Re:I've come out of hiding just to say... (Score 1) 98

Years later it's still clearly nothing more than a nasty hack.

Sometimes a hack is what you need, and it's the difference between being able to accomplish the goal, and not being able. But key is "years later." Now Citrix is irrelevant, but 20 years ago it let you do things which otherwise simply couldn't be done, and "p0wned" is largely a non-issue when talking about machines not connected to the Internet.

Let's say it's 1994 and you have a legacy MS-DOS application where porting it to Linux or whatever isn't an option. The application talks a lot to a database, and it's fast enough over 10M ethernet. But your medical practice has a satellite office a few miles away, and for a shitload of money, you can get a 56K link. (Yes, these numbers all sound so quaint today, but that's the whole point.) You're not going to have 8 users running that app doing its database queries sharing a 56k link. The patients will die of old age in the waiting room if you do that.

But you put a Citrix box at the main office, which is OS/2 2.0 plus Citrix's hacks, an 8-serial-port digiboard, plugging into a serial multiplexer which plugs into your synchronous mode USR Courier plugged into the 56k link. At the satellite office the other Courier plugs into the demultiplexer and serial lines go to the terminals, and there you go. You've got 8 users at dumb terminals running an MS-DOS legacy app which is really running at the main office where it can easily query the database fast enough. And it works.

Of course it's a hack. But it's a hack that lets you tell the client Yes, we'll take your money and make it work and you'll be able to see patients. That's better than telling them No, it can't be done. Don't you agree?

Ten years later, you might say "screw Citrix, just run dosbox on some Linux machine instead, and connect by ssh over an IP link (or the Internet itself)" and dude, I would totally agree with you. But no fair, you're in the wrong decade, unless you have dosbox working on Linux and talking to Netware servers in 1994 -- and you don't. Believe me, I know, I looked, and you just don't have that in 1994. Or forget dosbox, just port your shitty legacy app to Linux, right? *sigh* Once again, you have my agreeing with you in principle, but it's 1994 and you're trying to sell Linux and you've been pleading for years that we ought to work on getting our app no-longer-dependent on unportable proprietary libraries (and compilers!), and .. holy shit do I NOT miss those days. OMG do I love my new job. Sometimes I forget how much I love my new job and how much crap I'm not dealing with anymore. :-) Fuck you, 1990s. I don't ever want to see the fucking 1990s again. If I'm ever walking down the street and the 1990s are there .. I don't know if I can be held responsible for what happens.

Comment Re:Missing Innovation (Score 1) 178

Your comment wouldn't be stupid, if Congress didn't already have hundreds of pages of law about this very topic, to address various industries' entitlements to have special powers and exclusive rights granted by the government at the expense of the people. But they do. Congress is already pointing guns at peoples' faces, saying "do this business, this way or else." This is already a "market" (and I use that term loosely) where how it works is centrally planned. And it fails to deliver adequately or live up with the constitutional justification for it. What I'm proposing is an everyone-wins fix.

If anyone actually had a problem with "entitlement" here, someone would have voted that way by now. So far 100% of Congress (can't even find Rand Paul to suggest he'd be an exception) is still supporting some level of regulation of these industries, not advocating copyright be abolished, etc. We tried the radical-left-overregulated approach (DMCA) and it failed; now sit down, shut the fuck up, and let libertarians solve this mess. Yes, libertarians. I may be talking about pointing guns at peoples' faces too, but if you're paying attention you'll see it's a shitload fewer guns aimed at fewer people than the status quo, and every bit of it is based upon accomplishing the goal as stated in Article 1 Section 8.

I know I've been trolled, but .. damn. We've had DMCA on the books for about fifteen years and no one does anything about it, and then someone has the fucking nerve to suggest my idea involves entitlement? No, fuck you.

DRM

Altering Text In eBooks To Track Pirates 467

wwphx writes "According to Wired, 'German researchers have created a new DRM feature that changes the text and punctuation of an e-book ever so slightly. Called SiDiM, which Google translates to 'secure documents by individual marking,' the changes are unique to each e-book sold. These alterations serve as a digital watermark that can be used to track books that have had any other DRM layers stripped out of them before being shared online. The researchers are hoping the new DRM feature will curb digital piracy by simply making consumers paranoid that they'll be caught if they share an e-book illicitly.' I seem to recall reading about this in Tom Clancy's Patriot Games, when Jack Ryan used this technique to identify someone who was leaking secret documents. It would be so very difficult for someone to write a little program that, when stripping the DRM, randomized a couple of pieces of punctuation to break the hash that the vendor is storing along with the sales record of the individual book."

Comment Re:Missing Innovation (Score 1) 178

Line up deals with content sources..

This is actually very close to right (you're not crazy), but it's wrong.

What this industry's player products, video services, and the users of those products and services, really need is for the player-manufacturer-makes-a-deal-with-the-service-provider to not happen, and for all the industry's mis-steps in this direction, to be rolled back.

If we can prevent these deals from happening, and instead put pressure on these video services to conform to a STANDARD INTERFACE for doing the same kinds of operations that you talk about -- so that any player is allowed to implement it, then Tivo (and MythTV and Sickbeard and AppleTV and your "smart TV" and Intel's new product and Roku and the hacker in the garage next door) would just have to write one component that speaks that protocol, and you would be able to use your player (whatever that may be) with any and all video services that you subscribe to, without giving a competitive advantage to Amazon and Netflix and Hulu (and by corollary: a disadvantage to their competitors, both present and future) .

Standard interfaces are what made analog TV (both OTA and cable) great. It's what makes OTA digital TV great, and it's how digital cable fails and why people stopped subscribing.

It's what made the web great.

This is how video could open for business again, instead of giving up and admitting that pirating is the only way to get things to work right. And right now, pirating is the only way to get things to work right, have clean interfaces, be user-friendly and hassle-free, etc. It's not even about money right now, it's about not-brain-damaged functionality and the fact that pirates use standards and the people they pirate from, don't.

Using congressional force to make video services use standards instead of DRM, would be easily justifiable and there's already ridiculous amounts of precedent (thanks, fifteen years of DMCA) that it's within Congress' powers and that no voters have a problem with it. It'd vastly improve the quality of consumer experience, and increase revenues since it'd remove the need for piracy. If video copyright can still be saved, this is how it'll be done.

But we can't get there, the more "deals" that are made between manufacturers and service providers, to make things work about 25% as well as they ought to while at the same time, excluding competition and innovation. That just makes it harder to get progress, and with each passing year of the current clusterfuck, more consumers "drop out." This should have been part of the 2009 mandatory digital OTA TV thing.

Comment Re:How Facebook innovated (Score 1) 307

facebook didn't innovate anything, they just provided a popular version of something that already existed

In your opinion, has anyone ever innovated anything?

Got an example? Feel free to draw from the entire sphere of endeavor, for all of human history.

Can you guess what I'm going to do, to any example that you cite? ;-)

Comment Re:Oh please! (Score 1) 161

The law should just ban the manufacture, import, sale, rental, or lease of any cable box equipment with cameras and microphone built in.

You are you, to say my HTPC can't double as a phone?

The best way to solve this problem is to outlaw DRM and any other proprietary licensing needed in order to manufacture these computer systems. That would allow competition (and "promote progress" if I may lapse into a little constitutionese). The competition created by ending receiver lock-in, would put users (buyers) in the drivers seat as to what features/bugs are desirable. Then if users don't want to be spied upon, they won't buy the spies-on-you-boxes.

Right now we can't have that market, because the DRM, both through DMCA (i.e. a gun pointed at your face) and also trade secrets, make it so there can't be competing boxes; users are a captive audience and have to accept whatever features/bugs come with The One Box that they're allowed to use.

(The DMCA aspect is particularly infuriating; the government isn't even neutral or laissez-faire in this issue, they're actually neck-deep committed to an anti-consumer position.)

Imagine if it worked the way it ought to (and how it did a decade ago, when many of us subscribed to analog cable TV) : would you decide to include a camera and a mic in your MythTV build, and if you did, and would you write (or even bother to install) the plugin which would forward those inputs to your cable company? Or if you didn't want to build it yourself and instead you preferred to buy it from someone who did that, would you pay extra for the ones that spied on you?

It's absurd when I put it that way, isn't it? That's how simple it is, and how awful it is that you're not allowed to be in control of what this computer does.

This problem can totally solve itself, if we can get government to reverse its pro-DRM position. There's no need to prohibit things like cameras and mics; just legalize consumers' Just Say No strategy for dealing with hostile computers.

Comment Re:Glass??? (Score 2) 307

people that have an IQ above 40 knows it has a big bright light on it when the camera is active

*sigh* Yes, but people with an IQ above 60 know that you can't ever trust someone else's computer.

I don't have Glass (nor do I think that particular product lies in my future) but I bet I'll have some kind of wearable within a decade. And rest assured, any light it ever shines, is going to be for my purposes, not other people's purposes. If I'm not in control of the machine, then: no sale. My wearable most certainly will have what most people consider to be a "perv mode."

I'm not at all interested in looking at other dudes' junk, but I also don't expect any random dude to know that about me. The real reason I won't get punched (I predict) is that 1) people won't know the camera is there at all 2) people won't give a fuck, because they'll have had a few years acclimating to it, thanks to the social pioneers who walk around with Glass and things like it which are inevitably coming.

Cameras are ubiquitous. People will eventually accept it, whether they want to or not. Those who around with Glass opening displaying their cameras, are teaching the public about something that is already there. They're paving the way for the social acceptance of .. 1990s(?) .. camera technology.

Comment How Facebook innovated (Score 5, Interesting) 307

I'll tell you what Facebook innovated. (You're not going to like it, though, because we tend to think of innovation as synonymous with "progress" and progress is usually measured in terms of end user utility. And what I'm about to say is totally not that.)

Facebook somehow had a website that was popular (that's not a part of the innovation, but it's an extremely important prerequisite) and then got a million other websites to embed references to Facebook resources into theirs, like Google did with Google Analytics. Since most browsers, by default, are happy to load any embedded resource referenced on a page, that gave Facebook an incredible number of "hits" from diverse sources.

Most classical (i.e. naive) 1990s-thinking web people would see these "hits" as totally valueless, because they're not pageloads, they aren't showing ads that you got paid to run, or whatever. The clever people, though, saw that you use this sort of thing with a cookie and combined with referer[sic], to build marketing profiles.

The mid-late 1990s clever people knew that too, but their references were ads themselves (e.g. doubleclick). They had to pay to get other webmasters to embed this crap. Nobody is going to embed a doubleclick image (i.e. an ad for something) unless you give them money.

You don't get paid to embed Google Analytics javascript, though. You don't get paid to embed a Facebook "like" button. So Facebook can do all the same "spying" that doubleclick.net could do a decade earlier, but without paying for it.

And webmasters embed these things for free, because they feel they get something out of it. With Google Analytics, you get the reports and analysis. Sure, you could get a lot of that from your own logs, but not all of it (Google knows some things about your visitors, that you might not, and this is their business, they're able to "keep up") and GA is easy and there and waiting for you. With Facebook like buttons, discussions, etc, webmasters are counting on the popularity of Facebook, to make it so that people who use their own site, will generate events on their Facebook profiles which will be seen by other Facebook users who don't use their own site, and maybe someone will curiously click through and you get a new visitor.

You gotta give Facebook some credit for that. I get how Google turns their spying into money, but I still don't really understand how Facebook does. (Apparently Wall Street doesn't understand it either, judging from the ever-falling stock price.) But there's probably an angle, and however it can be used, Facebook has very successfully put into place at least half of it already. Getting so much of the web to embed your script or iframe (and without having to pay them for it) -- holy crap, I totally can't imagine that happening fifteen years ago.

So it's innovation. Just not the kind users like to see happen.

Comment Re:if he is lying... (Score 1, Insightful) 749

Because the lies, which Snowden pull out of his ass, were classified. When he exposed the stuff that he had made up out of thin air, he jeopardized the programs which don't do those things. Dozens of terror threats have been foiled by this thing which lacks the capability to discover terror threats, and now it may no longer have the ability to not do that.

And finally, the biggest reason Snowden's lies should be swept away, is that prior to the Guardian story, bad guys didn't know that NSA was trying to intercept their communications. Now the bad guys know it, and they may take countermeasures, thanks to Snowden falsely misleading them into thinking it's true.

If bad guys set a new trend where usage is shifted from systems and methods which aren't spied upon, to those which are spied upon, the mass mainstream may follow their trend. That could put US Citizens' civil liberties at risk.

Comment Re:Protecting the arts and artists (Score 5, Funny) 442

I have a plan for changing this at the basic political level, finally getting rid of absurdly-long copyright terms. (And coincidentally, my plan should work for addressing the overbroadness domestic surveillance powers, too.)

The plan is to vote for Republicans or Democrats. (I haven't yet decided which; that's a minor detail.) This way, I can get Republicans or Democrats into key policy-making positions, where they will finally be able to enact the changes they have been promising.

Everyone, if you think the current laws are unfair and ridiculous and you want to Do Something about it, November 2014 will be your first big chance: vote to finally get some Republicans or Democrats into congress. And then in November 2016 vote for a Republican or Democrat president too. (Can you imagine the changes we would see at DoJ, if only we were to have a Republican or Democrat president? Can you imagine the reforms we would see in copyright law, if only we have a Republican or Democrat majority in the houses? Can you imagine what limits would be imposed upon the NSA by the president, if only we were to elect a Republican or Democrat to that job?)

CHANGE CAN HAPPEN, if you do what is necessary to make it happen. For that, the parties (Republicans and Democrats) who are against the status quo, and instead, support common-sense reform, need your support. These parties have never had the opportunity to show their colors, and if only we would give them the chance, I'm sure they wouldn't let us down.

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