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Comment Re:pointless (Score 4, Insightful) 157

Yeah, I'm waiting for this fad to pass. Anyone who doesn't live by themselves is better served by a flat display. And those that do live alone get a marginal benefit, at best. Certainly not worth the aesthetic annoyance of how it sits against the wall, nor the fact that it's subpar if you ever do get someone to watch things with you.

Comment Re:First amendment ? WTH ? (Score 1) 112

If I choose to purchase a device that, by design, records everything I say, then I've voluntarily sacrificed my right to privacy in exchange for the benefits afforded by the device.

That's an assertion on your part, not a fact.

Mea culpa, I overstated things, so you're quite right in calling me out. What I intended to convey was that when you permit a third-party to record anything you say in your home, you've compromised the protections provided by your right to privacy, which should be a factual statement we can agree on. You still have the right, of course, but it's impossible to exercise it to its full extent while permitting an intrusion of any sort.

The police certainly are within their rights to seek a warrant to obtain information so long as is it relative to the case. They may not however use warrants to conduct fishing expeditions on the off-chance that information might be found that might be relevant to the case.

What you seem to be suggesting (that they may not search when something only might be found) sounds like it'd require them to have a crystal ball to know the contents of the recordings before they could ask for them. Instead, the police require probable cause to get a search warrant, and they have it here, given that the device was in the home where the victim's body was found and that the recordings are from the time leading up to its discovery, which would've been when the crime was committed. That's sufficient reason for a prudent person to believe that a search of the recordings will turn up evidence of the crime.

Comment Howdy! (Score 1) 114

I've never actually talked to him, nor am I a customer, but I want to see him succeed since it's clear that he's providing a useful service to a number of people. Plus, if he gets big enough to expand just a tiny bit further into town, he may actually reach my house, which would let me ditch the big-name ISP I'm incredibly dissatisfied with.

Comment Re:Mom & Pop internet providers? (Score 4, Interesting) 114

I'd take it to mean ISPs like Brazos WiFi, a small ISP that operates in the rural areas close to where I live. It was started about a decade back by a lone tech guy who was frustrated that none of the major ISPs were serving the town he lived in. At this point, it's his full-time job and he's putting up a handful of new towers every year to expand his region, improve his service, and lower his prices. I'd imagine he has customers in the low thousands at this point, since he's serving several rural towns and has even started getting into the outskirts of the main cities in the area.

I'd consider that a mom and pop ISP.

Comment Re:First amendment ? WTH ? (Score 5, Interesting) 112

The summary does a poor job of explaining Amazon's point (which isn't to say it's a good point anyway). Amazon doesn't seem to be saying that Alexa has rights, so much as it's saying that you or I or anyone else who owns an Echo has rights, and that those rights would be trampled if this warrant was served.

Their line of argumentation seems to be the following:
1) People have a First Amendment right to say and express anything they want in the privacy of their home (which is true)

2) If people aren't secure in their privacy, we've stripped them of their right to express themselves freely (also true)

3) If the police could hear anything anyone has said, it would have a "chilling effect" because people wouldn't be secure in their privacy (yup)

4) The police are asking for days' worth of audio without any direct evidence it has anything to do with the crime (true, I guess)

5) Thus, if they granted the police access to those recordings, they would be compromising the rights of Alexa users everywhere (wait...what?)

The problem with their logic is, of course, that the police aren't forcing anyone to buy an Alexa device. If I choose to purchase a device that, by design, records everything I say, then I've voluntarily sacrificed my right to privacy in exchange for the benefits afforded by the device. It's not the police's fault that I've done so, and they're entirely within their rights to seek a warrant for the information that I've served up on a platter.

This isn't blanket police surveillance, like Amazon appears to be asserting. This is a blanket devaluation of and disregard for the importance of privacy. Amazon is trying to protect us from the consequences of our poor choices, not because they're interested in protecting our interests, but rather because their business depends on having no consequences for using their products. If people actually understood just how creepy Alexa and similar products are, they'd stop inviting them into their homes. Amazon is worried that a case like this will shine light on Alexa's privacy-destroying behavior.

Sacrificing one's privacy should never be treated lightly.

Comment Re:Practical? (Score 2) 134

A 10 million strong botnet would need +/- 3 years per key under ideal circumstances here.

Aren't you off by a few orders of magnitude there? 6,500 years of computation time divided by 10,000,000 bots would be about 5 hours and 42 minutes, not 3 years.

Even your hypothetical 10,000-strong botnet could do it in about 8 months, which might be well worth it if it meant being able to hijack a cert that could be leveraged in interesting ways (e.g. using it to sign your malware as an official update for the company).

Comment Re:Umm (Score 2) 389

As the poster had in fact said: >It's NOT just citing sources and peer review...

I don't see anyone saying that in this thread, nor in the summary. Where did you pull that quote from?

As for the central idea I was trying to convey, I said it right at the start of my post: citations and peer reviews are necessary but insufficient. I suppose the shorter version of what I then went on to say is that citations and peer reviews are tools that enable us to build a network of trust, and a network of trust is a tool that can be used to establish the credibility of information, but at the end of the day tools are only useful if people are actually using them, and for that we need to teach critical thinking.

Comment Re:Umm (Score 5, Interesting) 389

They already had this. It's called citing your sources and peer review.

Having read countless research papers that fit your criteria, I can tell you that citing your sources and being peer reviewed are not nearly sufficient. They're necessary steps, to be sure, but I've read more than my fair share of papers from conferences or journals, some even associated with reputable organizations, that were nothing but complete bunk. What you need are citations to trustworthy sources and to be reviewed by trustworthy peers.

And that's the crux of the issue: this is about establishing a network of trust. Citations and peer reviews are an important part of that process, but the notion that they are sufficient in and of themselves misses the point. After all, how is a layperson supposed to know that the American Society for Mechanical Engineers (ASME) is a reputable professional society that has strict ethical and legal obligations, and that the information attributable to it is likely to be trustworthy, but that the American Association for Mechanical Engineers (AAME, which I hope is a fictional entity, but who I apologize to if they actually exist) is a front that's been created by a group to push its own agenda? We see this sort of thing happening all the time in medical, environmental, and other fields that are overshadowed by partisan politics.

Moreover, even if we do manage to establish a network of trust, we still need people to actually trust it in order for it to be useful. How do we do that? By teaching them to think critically and to recognize BS. When they do, they'll naturally gravitate towards trustworthy sources that provide verifiable information. With a world full of people espousing "alternative facts", the very notion of a network of trust can become political, so it's important to train people to pursue the truth even when it doesn't jibe with what they want to believe, otherwise they'll be perfectly content reading peer-reviewed nonsense filled with citations to worthless publications.

It's a shame that fact-based reporting and analysis has become viewed as politically driven, but that's the world we live in. I do agree that citations and peer reviews are necessary, useful tools, but we need to train people to not only use those tools but to also recognize when there's a problem causing them to come up short.

Comment Re:And, I might start buying more from them again. (Score 1) 183

Agreed. As I'd imagine is the case with most people, I didn't know what to get some people for the holidays until closer to Christmas, so I wasn't able to make a single, bulk purchase. As a result, I never had a single cart that was anywhere close to the $49 minimum. It ended up being cheaper to buy individual items directly from the manufacturers than to purchase them a few at a time from Amazon. In the end, Amazon only sold me one item this last Christmas, whereas in prior years I've done the bulk of my shopping on the site.

We stopped using Prime because we were getting less value out of the service than what it cost (YMMV), then our shopping on Amazon dropped off a cliff when they jacked the minimum up to $49. I was beginning to suspect that I'd barely use the site any more, but with the minimum dropping back down again, they may actually attract some of our business again.

Comment Re:News at 11 (Score 1) 65

Previously Gatekeeper had the option to to run apps from "Anywhere", that option has now been removed from GateKeeper settings

The option to run unsigned apps (i.e. apps from "Anywhere") still exists, but rather than being a global setting, it's now handled on a one-off basis by bringing up the contextual menu on any unsigned app and telling it to Open. I think it provides a warning about the risks and then confirms that you want to still open it, but after that it'll run just like any other app, no more warnings or anything. In the last year or two, I've only encountered one unsigned app that required I go through that process, and I'd consider myself a fairly advanced user (as I imagine most other people here would).

Avoiding the MAS is becoming more difficult for Mac users.

In practice, I don't think this is actually the case. Again, I've only encountered one unsigned app in the last year or two. Were that not the case, I might agree, but the vast majority of Mac developers seem to have a certificate at this point, and the second option you listed is the default one, so their apps run with default settings, which means that no one is really being pushed to the MAS. And stories like the ones being described in the summary are becoming increasingly common. Indications seem to point towards MAS usage being in decline for the last few years among advanced users, and novice users are dwindling too as their attention is increasingly drawn towards mobile platforms.

I do agree that macOS is converging on iOS, but I think we're still a good few years away from it becoming that locked down.

Comment Re:News at 11 (Score 2) 65

Lots of things may happen. For now, if the machine is working for you better than anything else you've looked into, keep using it. Simple as that.

As to your concerns, even if Apple decided to do what you said, it wouldn't be an immediate concern. You'd be able to keep using your existing machines for years as people worked on creating/polishing alternatives, given that there'd be nothing forcing you to "upgrade". By the time you needed to purchase an alternative, there'd not only be plenty of them available, there would also be plenty of blogs and other resources providing advice as to which ones suit your specific needs.

All of which is to say, leave tomorrow's concerns for tomorrow. Don't worry about them today.

Comment Re:News at 11 (Score 5, Insightful) 65

To be clear, this is about the Mac App Store (MAS), not the (iOS) App Store. In both cases, you're effectively paying Apple a cut of the profits in order to make your product more accessible to consumers. In the case of the iOS App Store, it's pretty obvious that the 15%/30% cut is worth it, since if your app isn't there, it isn't for sale as far as 99.9% of people are concerned (even though that's not strictly the case).

But the MAS? Its value proposition has always been questionable.

For one, purchasing patterns are drastically different between mobile and PC. Consumers typically already know what Mac apps they plan to buy, rather than browse-shopping like they do on iOS, so whether the app is in the MAS or on a website makes no difference. As such, developers don't lose much from pulling out, or, in many cases, what they lose in unit sales is more than made up in reduced overhead.

Making matters worse for the MAS, it's oftentimes the case that the version of the app sold in the MAS is both more expensive and has less features than the one sold on their website. The MAS has a number of requirements (e.g. strict sandboxing) that make certain features virtually impossible to implement, so the apps in the MAS are oftentimes missing key features found in the direct-sale versions, or they might be lagging behind by a few versions due to the app store review process that all updates need to go through. And because developers don't see much benefit from the MAS, many of them simply tack on a 30% premium for the version sold through the MAS, that way they can recoup the cost. But even in the case that the developer doesn't price it higher, there's no way to offer upgrade pricing for loyal customers, so MAS users end up paying full price for subsequent versions, rather than being able to get a discount that the developer might be offering on direct sales.

All of which is to say, the MAS is a somewhat hostile environment to both developers AND users, so it's not surprising that niche apps aimed power users (i.e. the ones most likely to know how to use a browser to find software) are seeing improved numbers after pulling out of the MAS.

Comment Re:Retarded headline... (Score 1) 55

Absolute gibberish. Start capitalizing only the words that should be capitalized.

Headline capitalization has been a special case in the English language for centuries, so what the editors did here is appropriate, but even if you were to capitalize it normally it would still be "Overeager investors seeking Snap buy Snap Interactive instead", which doesn't do much to help you understand the situation.

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