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Comment Re:Maybe they'll search for a better solution ... (Score 1) 150

Setting up some form of logging (that they are fully informed of) that doesn't require daily intervention (and you have the already-demonstrated good sense not to obsess over, or probably even look at most of), but you can access when needed, is not necessarily bad.

One possible method would be get them a data-only SIM, install a SIP client on their phone, and run your own SIP service for them (and you) -- as a bonus, you can wind up cheaper (potentially as low as the operating costs of the server, with all calls and texts free, if you take advantage of the right offers, different routing for sending/receiving, voice/SMS, etc.) this way. I haven't done it, because it's really a bit of work to set it up and, then keep on top of what VoIP providers are offering what services free, but amortized over a whole family, it could be worthwhile -- and then logging is at your discretion.

Of course, if your kids know you're logging everything, they will inevitably route some comms other ways -- payphones (if they can find them), their friends' phones, social networking sites, etc., so it's still no good for helicopter parenting, but if you're concerned about e.g. teachers starting predatory relationships with them, it could have some value.

Disclaimer: I'm not a parent, don't want to be (yet, anyway), and haven't studied for it -- therefore I make no claim that my ideas about parenting are particularly good. They are pure speculation devoid of research or experience, and the only thing dumber than yelling at me because I'm obviously wrong would be following my suggestions. ;)

Yeah, I know that's all possible, but I'm not going to do any of that. 1) I don't log or lock down their computer at all. It's in a common living space and they know the rules. They still make mistakes, though, and I help them through those. 2) I just don't have the time to do any of that. I can barely be bothered to check the "Parental Controls" box for their browser (mostly because I don't believe it will do any good, long-term). 3) Maintaining my own SIP network while I have a full-time job, multiple kids, as well as other important things going on? Forget about it.

Comment Re:Maybe they'll search for a better solution ... (Score 1) 150

If you cant trust them to not abuse a mobile phone...

It's not about trust, it's about allowing for the inevitable naive mistake without all of the dire or embarrassing consequences. It's about balancing communication capabilities against being confronted with new and challenging concepts. My kids know my phone number, they should be able to call me if they need help. I trust them to do that, and to not send inappropriate messages to others. But what if they get a creepy text from a peer? Or what if they send a poorly-phrased text to a peer who then misinterprets it?

I know I can cut off text, or simply not give them a phone at all. But the middle ground seems worth exploring, I'm just not sure how to do it. I really just wish I could give them a quarter, and trust that there is pretty much always a pay phone within an 1/8th of a mile. These days, it's "all" (iPhone) or "nothing" (crippled feature phone) or nothing (nothing). I'm not happy with any of those three.

I want to be able to send a 10-year-old out into the world (and I will most certainly do so anyway), but the concept that it's up to the parent to constantly monitor kids' activities and at the same time allow the kids to live in the real world seems to me to have an inherent logical flaw.

Comment Re:Maybe they'll search for a better solution ... (Score 1) 150

I would also like to see some education on the parental front. I would much rather a parent monitoring my communications with a child than my employer. After all, it is the parent who is ultimately responsible for the upbringing of the child and it is the parent who should be deciding the boundaries that other adults have with their children.

While I agree with this, it is easier said than done. When I was a kid, I always a quarter in my pocket which I could use to call home or my parent's work. Today, there are simply no pay phones anywhere where my kids spend time (a big city in the USA). My kids don't have mobile phones yet (because they can't reliably use them yet), but when they do, they will have them on their person all day. How do you monitor phone calls/sms/web browsing in this scenario? Not a glib question -- I try to do a lot to monitor my children's online/tv/etc time. There are no private TVs or computers in the house; we talk about what it means to enter an email address into a Club Penguin form; etc. But at some point, they are going to have to go out into the world on their own, and they are going to have to have a way to phone home when they are in trouble. Am I supposed to do a data dump on their phones at the end of each day and interrogate them about mysterious SMSs that I find? I'm not really interested in that for many reasons...

Comment Re:Changing priorities (Score 4, Insightful) 88

The 2G phones were designed at a time when the manufacturers still thought people gave a shit about coverage or battery life.

Apple has shown us all that they don't..

I think history disagrees with you. The first iPhone was 2G despite 3G radios existing and working in the wild. They didn't put a 3G radio into the phone until they were small enough and efficient enough. The tradeoff was low-bandwidth vs battery life, and Apple decided battery life was more important. There is nothing particularly cutting edge about any of the iPhone's hardware at all. They use solid parts with good specs, but they are never "the best" that is available at the time. They do this specifically to improve battery life and ensure basic functionality.

You can complain about the UI and App Store all you like, but I don't think Apple has ever made a phone that sacrifices coverage and battery life for the sake of wowing customers.

Comment Re:Statement from BART (Score 3, Insightful) 440

How can the platforms and trains of a public transport system (that is tax supported and even run by a state agency) not be public areas? This is explicitly not about interfering with the trains, it is about "expressive activity" i.e. exercise of everybody's constitutional freedom of speech. If you have a valid ticket you are not "de facto trespassing" either. Freedom of speech cannot be limited to "certain areas", it is either a universal, fundamental right or it makes no sense at all. If to exercise your freedom of speech you are required to go into a "Free Speech" cage, what kind of freedom is that?

They are not public areas in the sense that the area behind the counter of the DMV is not a public area. In order for it to function, there must be rules. You and 50 of your friends cannot just walk into a DMV and hang out in the back office simply because it is run by the government. Have you been to a BART station in San Francisco? They are tiny and completely packed. There is no conceivable way to hold a protest on one of the platforms below Market Street without shutting it down. It's like insisting on holding a parade on the only 1-lane road that is used by 100,000 people an hour. It's not going to be allowed. Set up shop on the side of the road, or set up shop in the BART station, but not on the platform. These are all fine.

Comment Re:Statement from BART (Score 3, Insightful) 440

Paragraph 2: "No First Amendment activities in the trains, boarding areas, or any other part of our property." (I love the "expressive activities" buzzphrase in this one)

No, the statement is that the platforms and trains are not public spaces, and if you interfere with the trains, you are de facto trespassing and they will have you arrested. I support PETA doing their thing on the sidewalks and in the parks, but I would take action if they ended up in my living room or if they disabled my vehicle.

Comment Re:Well then just shut down everything (Score 2) 440

Since crime must be prevented, everything should be shut down to prevent all sorts of crime. Never mind about protests. What about real crimes like bank robbery and murder? Phone shouldn't work, guns shouldn't fire, TVs should turn off, and cell phones, FaceBook, Twitter, should all be silenced. Then there's that whole internet thing... Everyone please just stay home and be safe! Think of the children.

Look, protesting is not a crime in any degree and should not be lumped next to them even when trying to make an example.

BART was pretty clear that they would have accommodated a protest. BART was attempting to prevent a shutdown of the system, which would be a major hassle for hundreds of thousands of people. This happened a couple weeks ago, it was chaos and there is no alternative to BART for the majority of its riders. I don't know whether shutting down some of their own equipment was effective, or outrageous, or appropriate, or what, but I am glad for everyone who was able to pick up their kids at camp or make other crucial appointments on that day.

Comment Re:Apple's Greed Knows No Bounds (Score 2) 307

Here's my take on it. Apple's greed is amazing to behold.

It's not clear that it's about greed. Far more likely is that it's about control, control over the experience of their users. Apple has a direct motive to fully support the Kindle app on iOS, because the users of their devices want it there. iBooks just exists for users who can't be bothered to dive into the Kindle ecosystem. But also, Apple has a direct motive to prevent sketchy financial transactions from originating from within iOS apps. A couple of errant games that redirect users to a Russian mafia site to steal credit cards can very quickly remove any trust that people have in the App Store. Apple is mitigating this, at the very public cost to a handful of apps (Kindle, Google Books (or whatever), Netflix, etc.) But the bottom line is that in this capacity, Amazon, Google, and Netflix are all middlemen. Middlemen are going the way of the dodo in general, although today these three behemoths obviously provide a great deal of value to the end-user.

I don't use Kindle or Google Books or Netflix on my phone, so I'm not certain what the big deal is. If you have a Kindle account, is it really that hard to buy books at amazon.com rather than from within the Kindle app? Maybe it is, but the only effect this policy has had on me is to elevate the amount of trust I have with in-app purchases -- Only Apple will ever get the transaction details, and Apple has a pretty good track record with processing purchases.

I have a hard time finding fault with Apple's policy on this.

Comment Context? (Score 1) 306

I wonder what the context of the question was. I find it surprising that 34% is an accurate number. After all, the word "3G" is on the screen pretty much 100% of the time. More likely, people who don't have a 4G phone aren't sure what "4G" means, and the previous question biased the response to this question.

Q: Do you know what "4G" means?
A: Yes, it is technology that certain phones use for wireless communication.
Q: Do you plan on getting a 4G phone?
A: I already have an iPhone 4.

vs:

Q: Have you ever had a 3G phone?
A: Yes, I had the iPhone 3G.
Q: Do you plan on getting a 4G phone?
A: I already have an iPhone 4.

Comment Re:Apple's Weakness (Score 1) 297

Too bad that Apple is admitting how they can't compete with their design and technology, so they will compete with lawyers instead.

IANAL, but aren't they saying the exact opposite? Aren't they saying, "We have invented a superior technology and design because of these specific patents, which HTC illegally stole/copied/whatever"? I am not validating the patent system here, just trying to clarify the tactical stance.

Comment Re:So (Score 1) 250

And you also think Google should face antitrust trial for blocking Facebook from getting Gmail contacts, right?

I don't think people realize how annoying this feature was (is? does it work today?). When facebook was pushing it, I would routinely get emails from people I knew. I had no interest in facebook at all, but they would correlate the sender's network and tell me about all of the other people I know who are using facebook, whether they invited me or not.

Really, google cutting this off has more to do with the *members* of the contact list rather than the person sending the invite.

I don't think Facebook did a good job at letting people know what the planned implications were for providing access to an address book. As a member of many people's address books but not a facebook user, I am glad that Google made this difficult for them.

Comment Re:Infrastructure (Score 1) 344

I can see serious vandalism, just for the lulz.

As opposed to now where they just slash your tyres and set fire to the car, "just for the lulz"...

I suspect that mischief that does not result in permanent damage would be far more tempting than something like slashing tires. Unplugging a car that is in the middle of charging would be such mischief. It reminds me of those parking meters that just internally tracked which spot had what time remaining. Someone would enter their parking spot number, pay for an hour, go shopping, then someone comes along and pays for 5 minutes for that spot in order to cause a ticket to be issued 6 minutes later.

The way to fix these problems is to require access to the car. Parking meters should emit a printout that the driver can put on his dashboard. Perhaps plugins would have some way to "lock" the cord to the car with access tied to the car keys. People could still cut the wire, but I suspect that would happen far less frequently than walking down a block unplugging every car.

Comment Re:"As a digital download" (Score 1) 370

Yes I don't understand it either.

"Digital" has come to mean "lacking media". For example, some of the movies you can buy on dvd or blu ray come with a "digital copy", which is a (usually) DRMed file that is playable on a computer or tablet. Of course the "dvd" part of the disk is also digital. But outside of some niches, 100% of all entertainment/art people consume is digital. Using the word "digital" to characterize something as a stream of 1s and 0s is now a meaningless distinction.

For people who have a technical understanding of what a dvd or cd is compared to a netflix stream or mp3, using the word "digital" in this way is indeed a bit strange. But what would you suggest as the word to describe "lacking media"? "media-less" doesn't work because the music and movies are generally casually referred to as "media" (let's go to my media room and watch a movie). "disk-less" is awkward to say.

After seeing "digital" used in this way a couple times, I was able to get over it just fine.

Comment Re:IT Doesn't Like Sally (Score 1) 120

If IT locks out the app store, it won't be successful.

Define "success"? Users won't like it or companies won't buy it? There's a difference, and the latter wins. It's the same reason companies don't buy office workers Alienware PCs.

...

Until the fired boss from Sony or Groupon or the Social Security Administration replaces our boss, and tells us to unencrypt everything, because nobody would ever, EVER, leave an iPad or iPhone just laying in a bar.

Sounds like you are railing on iOS, but do you realize that iOS has nearly ever feature you are touting in this not-yet-existent Cisco tablet? Even the example of leaving a phone in a bar is a stretch -- the thing was immediately wiped remotely.

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