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The Courts

DOJ: Defendant Has No Standing To Oppose Use of Phone Records 396

An anonymous reader writes with news of a man caught by the NSA dragnet for donating a small sum of money to an organization that the federal government considered terrorist in nature. The man is having problems mounting an appeal. From the article: "Seven months after his conviction, Basaaly Moalin's defense attorney moved for a new trial, arguing that evidence collected about him under the government's recently disclosed dragnet telephone surveillance program violated his constitutional and statutory rights. ... The government's response (PDF), filed on September 30th, is a heavily redacted opposition arguing that when law enforcement can monitor one person's information without a warrant, it can monitor everyone's information, 'regardless of the collection's expanse.' Notably, the government is also arguing that no one other than the company that provided the information — including the defendant in this case — has the right to challenge this disclosure in court." This goes far beyond the third party doctrine, effectively prosecuting someone and depriving them of the ability to defend themselves by declaring that they have no standing to refute the evidence used against them.

Comment Re:Oh, I totally agree... (Score 1) 791

Because it's good enough to meet many of today's needs, and it meets society's need to not create a throwaway technology for each and every device that a consumer buys.

I have a large box filled with wall warts that I've collected over the years, but the devices have long ago expired. (Most people simply throw them away along with the devices they no longer power, but when I'm building some kind of little toy project, I rummage around until I find one with the specs I need. I say recycling, my wife says pack-rat.) Either way, my box gives me a pretty good visualization of the amount of waste that one family's worth of demand creates over time. There's little reason to continue down that path.

Ultimately, if some phone maker needs something different in order to innovate, they can still provide one. For instance, nothing in the EU law prohibits a phone maker from adding an inductive coil into the backs of their phones, and charging them via desktop mats. Cordless is "better", right? They just have to also have the micro-USB port. Next year, if all phone makers start licensing inductive charging technology, the EU can certainly step in and modify the standard. Until then, waste is reduced.

Comment Re:Moo (Score 4, Interesting) 438

Apollo 13 had a huge advantage these other stories don't: it wasn't fiction nearly as much as it was a recreation. They didn't have to write the drama into the script, they didn't have to invent science, they didn't have to invent an oxygen tank stirrer that might explode (which sounds like a plot device from ST:TOS). They even had first-hand reports from the scientists involved. They didn't have to fake anything.

If you're filming a space drama from scratch, there are a lot of gaps you have to fill in. In a science fiction movie, technology is always just beneath the veneer of the characters, embedded in the very set. Their lives are intertwined with the tech, dependent upon it for everything, so it's always visible on screen, and in the back of the audiences' minds - will the tank run out of air? Will a micrometeor strike rupture the hull? But if that mission has never taken place, the tech is imaginary. We think a manned mission to Mars would require X and Y and Z, but we've not done it yet. That leaves some tech up to the imagination of the production designer.

2001 did a phenomenal job incorporating imaginary tech into the sets. The rotating set shots were indeed brilliant. Even so, how many astronauts would you need to enter an actual 2001-era CPU cabinet to shut down a rogue AI program? While he nailed the vision of centripetal gravity, he completely missed on some of the most important technical advances. In 300 years would Lt. Ripley really need a separate room to access MOTHER? Would MOTHER really still be displaying on a green screen CRT?

These days it only takes a few such mistakes to break the tech-savvy audience out of their willing suspension of disbelief.

You can say "we have a great story, let's have these great actors and actresses carry it. Behind them, we'll place some blinking lights and switches that look all spacey, paint them white, and we'll get ILM to add smoke and rocket exhaust, but for the most part we're not going to worry about it." Or you can say "let's take the design for an actual rocket that might be used for this mission, and build the set to resemble it. For the plot devices, we need a panel to access the cryo stirring control valve, and a different hatch to access the electrical bus, and each should contain all the appropriate parts, lines, hoses, and wires in our imaginary spacecraft. The astronauts are expected to live 40 years, so we'll need 372 cubic meters of storage representing food and water, 69 working CO2 scrubbers, the tanks will need to hold 4.3 million liters of fuel, etc. We'll film all the scenes on the Vomit Comet so that we don't make any mistakes regarding zero-G." They end up spending 30% of the budget on scientists and engineers and sets, and 60% on a zero-G film crew, and they haven't even told you the story yet.

I hope you like Polly Walker and Eric Stoltz, because they're the only actors they can afford on what's left of the budget.

Comment Re:Stubborn? (Score 1) 153

If you want a lame version of the experience, you can buy a cell phone case that has a pocket for a credit card in the back, and they supposedly work with NFC readers.

The problem with changing the systems are the profit models in the current system. Google wants to track your brick-and-mortar purchases. Retailers don't want to pay Visa's interchange rates. Visa and the PCI cartel don't want any competitors. Acquiring banks don't want a system that bypasses them in favor of a direct-to-bank model. So anyone who tries to change anything about the current system is sandbagged by everyone else they have to deal with. And Samsung and Apple want to sell you an NFC (or some kind of payment) phone, but don't dare until a winning model rears its head.

Comment Re:Great way to lose customers (Score 2) 274

Can you imagine where this will go? Shelf notices that you're overweight and you picked up a candy bar? Screen says, "Are you sure you want to buy that?" This will work great until someone puts a sticker over the sensor bar.

I can't see the stores limiting their profits sales by trying to dissuade customers from purchasing.

More likely, if the sensor sees you're overweight, when you pick up a candy bar a voice will say " Go on, take five! Take ten! Take them all! You know you want to!"

Comment Re:Piracy is still the best option (Score 1) 93

I too happily use Netflix.

I think the price is fair, and thought the DRM can be annoying (fast forward and rewind are awkward), the fact that it doesn't purport to be be selling me anything makes it not too bitter of a pill.

$8/month gives me access while I pay, and there are dozens of devices to play it on.

Comment Re:Tired of this nonsense (Score 2, Insightful) 548

To make it worse there's this pseudo fanatical craze to get rid of nudity with a passion but violence? not so much. somehow nudity is worse...reminds me of the MPAA rating system. Sure you can show blood, but the naked human body? are you out of your mind?!

In the US, maybe. In a lot of European countries, at least, there is a more relaxed approach to nudity and a greater abhorrence to depictions of violence.

Comment Re:what about the data format? (Score 1) 204

That's nice and all but can we trust our data formats to stay static for that long? Having the data but being unable to open it seems rather useless to me.

If we've been able to decipher obscure hieroglyphs and number systems from dozens of long-dead civilizations, I'm sure that 1 billion years from now scholars will be able to solve the arcane puzzle of ASCII and the VFAT file system. The much tougher problem would be: Once they have all the words extracted from the files, figuring out what they mean.

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