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Comment Hm... (Score 1) 400

Aaron Swartz wrote a program that automatically downloaded journal articles, and faced 13 felony charges for it. Weev noticed that by adding one to a number in a URL, you could see the information of other people, with no attempt to secure that information.

You're right, totally different! Aaron actually did some hacking; Weev did about as much hacking as a kindergardener might do. Yet he now faces prison time for it.

Comment Re:leaked huh ? (Score 1) 899

The fact that thieves may (and do) steal legally held weapons is an argument for stricter gun control.

Indeed, but the key thing to recognize here is that the kind of guns that thieves steal are handguns, not rifles. Unfortunately, people keep talking about "military grade" rifles (which is a deliberately deceptive term to use) and the urgent need to keep those kinds of guns out of the hands of lunatics, while ignoring the fact that most gun murders involve low-caliber handguns. I am glad people are talking about gun control; now we just need them to stop making idiotic statements like, "We're not talking about taking away anyone's right to defend their homes with a handgun, we just want to restrict access to military rifles!"

Comment Re:We need gas control! (Score 1) 1591

This is entirely the wrong issue to focus on. Rampage killers are a rarity: a mere seven in 2012 was considered unusually high. Compare that to the number of homicides in 2010: 14,748. If you ignore firearms, that number is still almost 5,000 -- 700 times higher than an unusual cluster of rampage killings. Source: https://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/data-and-analysis/homicide.html

Why is New York focusing on rifles anyway? Just before the Newtown massacre, a man was shot execution-style on one of New York City's streets with a handgun in broad daylight: http://pix11.com/2012/12/12/mystery-behind-execution-style-shooting-in-midtown-deepens-even-as-investigators-learn-more/

Handguns are the preferred weapon of criminals, and there is a huge black market for handguns. Why should we distract ourselves with the occasional massacre when we have a very real problem with criminal gun use? Criminals almost never use rifles -- rifles are too big to conceal easily, they make too much noise, and their accuracy at long distances is useless for the kind of fights criminals deal with. People need to stop wasting their time being terrified of guns that look scary and start focusing on the guns that are routinely used to murder people.

Comment Re:"What's the big deal?" (Score 1) 172

I spend more time in the web browser of computing devices than anything else. I don't think I'm unusual

You are unusual if you are talking about a smartphone. If people have a choice between an app and a website, they choose the app -- at the very least, it involves one less tap. Remember when we used to talk about having fewer clicks, and complained about websites that required two or three more clicks to get to the things we wanted?

corporations are just a bunch of people

A bunch of people whose operations are done using money borrowed from other people who want to see a return on their investment. A corporation cannot let values or anything other than a nation's laws supersede its profit motive without the consent of its investors, and it is naive to think that Apple's investors care about anything other than the return on their investment.

Let's put it this way: Steve Jobs admitted that the tantalum used in iPhones probably could be traced to Congo, where teenage soldiers are being ordered to rape women as a military tactic in a conflict that is fueled by minerals. Did Apple take some grand moral stance and spend money on either ending the conflict or finding alternative materials? No, Apple simply said that tantalum is needed to make iPhones and that they could not do anything about the conflict (despite being a corporation with enough capital that it could buy the entire region).

the complex reality and explanatory power of other motivations and causes

I call BS on that one. The only complication is in how corporations choose and exploit their markets, not in the purpose of their existence or of their ultimate goal. Apple is not creating computers out the goodness of their hearts. Apple did not sue journalists out of some moral obligation. Apple did not go after hackintosh makers for any sort of greater good. When Apple gives to charity, do they do so quietly, or do them make sure lots of cameras are around so that everyone knows about their service to the world (when/if you give to charity, do you then go around telling everyone about it?)?

It is kind of like saying that there is a complex reality to an army at war. Sure, different armies do things differently, and they are fighting for different reasons, but at the end of the day an army has a goal when it fights and that goal takes priority. Corporations are not all that different from a military operation: the people who work for them are trained to think they are doing something important, they are trained to think that they have an ethical obligation to follow orders, and at the top level there are people who direct operations to achieve the goal.

Apple and other technology companies that have been hugely shaped by one person

Apple was led to an overwhelming success by one ruthless person. Steve Jobs was not on some moral or ethical quest; he wanted to lead Apple to a great business success, and was willing to do whatever it took to make that happen. He berated employees if they were not perfect. He directed the company to patent everything, so that they could never be sued without having some counter-suit ready. He directed the company to go after anyone who stood in the way of the company's profits. It is as if he read Ender's Game and thought, "I bet Apple would be the most successful company in human history if someone like Ender Wiggin were to run it..."

Which of Apple's or Jobs' actions leads you to think otherwise? Frankly, which of the technology companies that was driven to success by one person suggests a different story? Facebook has yet to work on any sort of interoperability with any other system, and is increasingly aggressive about profiting from its userbase. Google does not stop short of doing business in countries where they are required to be evil. Oracle is as typical of a corporation as possible. Do I even need to mention Microsoft?

Comment Forced? I guess by some definitions... (Score 4, Insightful) 354

If by "forced," you mean "they were desperate for money but nobody would lend to them," then you would be right. AIG could have tried to issue some corporate bonds, but would you have been willing to buy them? Would you have purchased preferred stock? Would you have loaned them a single penny when they were teetering on the edge of bankruptcy?

If the shareholders think the deal was bad, they should sue the executives who agreed to it. Of course, they all know that the only remaining alternative was to declare bankruptcy, so what this really is about is a greedy attempt to get even more money.

Comment Re:"What's the big deal?" (Score 1) 172

There is a powerful platform that runs on every iOS device, and is not censored by Apple in any way: the web.

Except that mobile apps are much more likely to reach people than the web. Mobile apps require the user to do fewer things and can better take advantage of the client's hardware. Telling developers to just write web apps is telling them to wait in line while the VIPs get to just walk past.

liberal values

What liberal values? Apple has no liberal values, they are just like any other large corporation: money first, values never.

Comment Re:No jailbreak exemption for tablets (Score 1) 172

Congress is not preventing the dissemination of the information

Really? Then, what happened here, when 2600 magazine was prosecuted for publishing links to deCSS:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_v._Reimerdes

If you are wondering why Fedora will provide information on its website about RPMFusion but not Livna (where libdvdcss packages are), you have your answer: it is illegal to even publish that information in the United States. So much for the first amendment, so much for freedom of speech.

Comment Still not as bad as Apple (Score 1, Interesting) 172

Apple refused to allow political cartoon apps in the App Store, even in countries where such software is entirely legal. Apple has a history of bricking jailbroken iPhones. Apple sues reporters, sues hackers who figure out how to run Mac OS X on non-Apple hardware, and tries to exert the most extreme control possible over their customers' use of their products.

Meanwhile, Google allows you to use their search engine to find pornography, to find information on how to block Google's own advertisements, to find information on how to hack software released by Google to do things Google never intended, and so forth. Are they perfect? No, but did we really expect them to be? Frankly, Google has gone beyond what I would expect of a modern corporation in terms of user freedom.

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