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Submission + - The financial relationship between the NSA and Silicon Valley (

An anonymous reader writes: 'New documents from Edward Snowden published in The Guardian have shown for the first time the financial relationship between the NSA and some of the largest names in the tech business over the PRISM data-collection scheme ..`

"Last year's problems resulted in multiple extensions to the certifications' expiration dates which cost millions of dollars for Prism providers to implement each successive extension – costs covered by Special Source Operations" the document reads.

Comment Re:Rent-seeking (Score 3, Interesting) 89

"I'd be more surprised if AutoDesk weren't moving to subscription delivery of online product. They are the most widely "pirated" company of non-consumer software, ever. :-)"

Given that, for most of the software Autodesk makes, 'online product' is going to mean 'you download the install package and the DRM phones home a lot' rather than 'runs in a web page' or 'is delivered via ICA/RDP/X11/whatever from Autodesk's machine'. Heavy 3d (and customers who may not be at liberty to just ignore NDAs surrounding the stuff they are working on) don't fit well with that model unless you have impressive bandwidth and minimal latency.

Because of that, the anti-piracy effects of 'cloud' (in this sense) are pretty minimal, they certainly have been with Adobe's flavor. What this sort of subscription model does do, though, is remove the need to make version N+1 so compelling that people who own version N or version N-1 are moved to buy it, or at least pay an upgrade fee. This doesn't mean that you'll totally stop making improvements or adding features; but you get paid either way, so you no longer face the "Is our new product actually a meaningful improvement over our old one?" test on a regular basis.

That's what makes moving to a subscription model (for what is fundamentally client software, obviously charging fees for ongoing access to things hosted on my servers or otherwise generating recurring costs is a different matter) raises suspicions of 'lack of imagination'. Do you have enough market power that you can dictate an often-unpopular pricing arrangement? Do you suspect that you have no ideas for version N+1 that will motivate people to upgrade? Subscription model time!

Comment Re:Microsoft needs to be loved again (Score 2) 357

No, you're right... they were kinda dirty from the get-go, but I didn't know it yet at the time. Looking back, I see things differently than I did. I was attempting to reflect what I liked about Microsoft at that time more than to create an evaluation on them. My evaluation of them is as it is today -- they are dirt and screw up everything they try to do. I mean seriously. What the hell is Sharepoint supposed to be?! I get that business all over uses it and all that, but geez! It's web but it isn't? It's just another way of Microsoft showing they haven't learned anything from all of their failures.

Anyway, I once loved Microsoft. All they need to do is start over.

Comment Microsoft needs to be loved again (Score 5, Interesting) 357

Okay, so I'm a clearly-labelled "Microsoft Hater." I haven't always been this way. I got really comfortable with Win3.11 and then Win95 came out I experienced a level of computer excitement I haven't had since I started using OS-9 level two. (I am still quite fond of OS-9 though... just been a very long time.) I loved what Microsoft did. The advancements were terrific and long-awaited and all the precious knowledge I had acquired and accumulated over the various versions of DOS and Windows still applied so I was still relevant and loyal.

But then Microsoft started souring things. They tried to take over Java... tried and failed. They started pulling some extremely dirty stunts with their "partners" and such to the point it harmed so many other out there. I couldn't see those immoral acts without my opinion changing about the company behind the products. Some people just saw money and work. I have always seen more and I can't unsee it. When I see an OS user interface or go over source code or anything that goes into the design and engineering of such systems, I don't just see objects, I see ideas and what people were thinking when they put it all together which invariably results in a sense of knowing something about the people behind the creation of all of these things. For me, it was pretty easy to tell when something was a cludge or if real planning and design work went into things or how much respect one party had for another when parties worked together on a project. To me all of those things were the human element of what came together in creating these things. I may be pretty unaffected by fine art, but when I saw what when into computing back in the earlier days, I found myself quite moved by some of the things I saw. It was my world.

Microsoft slowly destroyed my world and all the things I loved about it. Microsoft started out making really cool things but when they really started getting big, they were increasingly about destroying others and less about creating cool things. If you want to understand why a Microsoft hater hates, I think my case is pretty clear by now.

And a new Microsoft could also rekindle all the new and cool things all over again. Sure, it may not be a "wise business decision." Most cool things aren't. But I think we're all ready for something really new and cool. We aren't going to get it from Apple. Google and Android is pretty much levelled off already as far as I can tell. A new Microsoft holds an opportunity within itself to recapture the love and awe it once had. So why haven't they done it already?

We know why... I just wish they would.

Comment Re:Awesome (Score 1) 582

I prefer a hostsfile myself.

Blocking at the router means that I don't have to tweak several hosts files, plus it covers my Android devices that don't have easily accessible hosts files, but do have pre-installed Facebook apps that call home every night with huge permissions that send who-knows-what, and can't be uninstalled. (When I finally rooted the tablet, I did some cleaning.)

Comment Religion is just dumb (Score 1, Flamebait) 1233

There are lots of brands and symbols people identify themselves with. Schools, sports, Apple iThings, politics, religion and lots, lots more. And if you dislike any of these things, you just made an enemy of someone because that is 'their identity.'

It's ridiculous to me... all these "symbol minded people." Perhaps it's my autistic tendencies or something else, but I just can't get behind the things other people get behind. What I see is a bunch of people getting behind a symbol with which they mutually identify and then they all start acting and thinking the same ways.

Whatever the source, most of these things are choices people make. This includes religion. I once had a discussion about religious discrimination with a muslim female who defended her religion and the practices of blending religion and government... and how she thought it was perfectly okay to have religious government.... until, that is, she is not free to do her religious things. She acted as if religion was not a choice. I ended the conversation quickly with "if religion isn't a choice, then it's not faith is it?" She agreed and shut up.

Comment Re:Forget ratings, measure ROI. (Score 1) 302

you are correct that the value of an education does not reside solely in earnings potential. However, the value of a debt is quantifiable and can be significant burden that can cripple people financially. To make a major fiscal decision without a reasonable expectation of being able to get out from under its financial obligations is foolhardy.

Comment Re:No more disagreement.. among .. historians (Score 2) 67

It's not the sequester that's at fault here. It's the way government agencies run their finances.

I like the way Thomas Sowell put it not too long ago, paraphrased: Let's say there was a government agency who had two purposes. First, to give life-saving medications and vaccines to children. Second, to build statues of Benedict Arnold. Cut the budget by 50%. What happens? The agency quits giving out the medications and vaccines. Why? Because it's a hell of a lot easier to get that funding restored.

That's what we're seeing here. The decisions about how and where to make cuts are being made politically rather than in a fiscally responsible fashion.

Comment Re:In the the land of he free (Score 5, Funny) 1233

In the the land of he free and the home of the brave.*

*some restrictions may apply.

Prosser: But the plans were on display.
Arthur Dent: On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar.
Prosser: That's the display department.
Arthur Dent: With a torch.
Prosser: The lights had probably gone.
Arthur Dent: So had the stairs.
Prosser: But you did see the notice, didn't you?
Arthur Dent: Oh, yes. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign outside the door saying "Beware of the Leopard." Ever thought of going into advertising?

Comment I see where this may be going (Score 4, Insightful) 27

When I lived in the DC area, the first thing that struck me was how many people asked me if I had a clearance. It was all about having a clearance and working on government projects there. It was kind of sickening to me to realize that -- all these people trying to suck at the government teat. And my impression was that no one was interested in working hard, doing a good job or doing anything interesting at all. It was about having government work and making large amounts of money. (Lack of enthusiasm is one of many key problems with government wouldn't you agree?)

And for government to be a driving factor in industry...? Any industry? It's also the sign of a problem... problems really. We know what we get when we mix military and industry -- a system that destroys people, property and nations for profit -- one where there can be no world peace because in order to sustain that business model, trouble must always be stirred up somewhere at all times. Do the words "invented threats" ring any bells or strike any chords?

As if the US military industrial complex isn't enough of a problem for the world (because you know the US isn't supposed to have a standing army by law) we also have the spy industry to deal with... it has always been there, but spies historically keep a low profile. These days, not so much.

Comment Re:Anton Vickerman Prosecution (Score 3, Interesting) 208

I wish that was funny.

I no longer take the human rights thing seriously when coming from my country. Until they start following the constitution, this country is completely dysfunctional. In the past, when something was declared/ruled as unconstitutional, it mean "you're done. cease doing it." For some reason, it doesn't mean that any longer. Now it's just "yeah? so?"

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Ya'll hear about the geometer who went to the beach to catch some rays and became a tangent ?