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Comment Re:Who would have guessed? (Score 4, Interesting) 244

Government procurement contracts pretty much preclude the government obtaining goods and services on the open market. Instead it must rely to a large degree on contractors and vendors who have the capability of handling all the special paperwork and requirements.

So if you're on a procurement committee you don't have much choice. Once you discard the vendors who (a) can't absorb the amount of money to be spent on schedule and (b) jump through the statutory federal contractor hoops, what you're left with is a rogues gallery of usual suspects.

Submission + - Malibu Media stay lifted, motion to quash denied

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes: In the federal court for the Eastern District of New York, where all Malibu Media cases have been stayed for the past year, the Court has lifted the stay and denied the motion to quash in the lead case, thus permitting all 84 cases to move forward. In his 28-page decision (PDF), Magistrate Judge Steven I. Locke accepted the representations of Malibu's expert, one Michael Patzer from a company called Excipio, that in detecting BitTorrent infringement he relies on "direct detection" rather than "indirect detection", and that it is "not possible" for there to be misidentification.

Comment Simple answer: (Score 1) 186

Charge for the non-security feature updates -- maybe even do it through the app store. Customers have to pay for updates one way or the other, so you should be able to sell a competitively priced phone and then make just as much money selling fewer physical phones and more software updates as you would under the status quo. That'd be good for the environment too.

The one sticking point is, as always, the carriers. They'd much rather you trade in your perfectly good phone for another one whose price is rolled into a contract extension. I'm convinced that Verizon on several occasions deliberately botched upgrades to force you to buy a new phone with more RAM.

Comment Re:Pet Rock (Score 2) 191

Sure, the only really unpredictable aspect of this scenario is the size of the peak. If their business plans were predicated on maintaining usage near the initial peak indefinitely, then they were stupid plans.

I'm guessing that the plans for this product aren't that stupid. In that case a sensible goal will be to maintain a modest but loyal group of regular users and to periodically introduce new features that will entice usage jags out of occasional players.

Comment Why not public transit instead? (Score 1) 444

Public transit provides a service that complements as well as competes -- especially in an old, dense city like Boston where there isn't a lot of room to add cars and public transit carries about half the commuters despite being in dire financial straits.

Think about what would happen to Uber and Lyft in a place like that if you doubled the number of people using surface roads.

Comment Re: Will Internet Voting Endanger The Secret Ballo (Score 2) 219

I think that countries need to switch to an open ballot because of the conflicts between the secret ballot and hybrid direct/representative democratic systems and electronic voting (which thanks to advances in cryptography becomes more viable every day). However the only reason the US didn't have huge trouble with an open ballot was the decreased motive for vote buying, since all voters in that time were white males - and usually from the upper classes at that (during much of that period, the white males also had to own land and/or pass an "intelligence test" and travel in ways that weren't practical for the working class in order to vote). In short, the country club crowd had no reason to pay or coerce each other to vote the way they all wanted. The fledgling democracy would've been clearly identified as an oligopoly by today's standards.

An open ballot being shoehorned into today's world would cause corruption and vote fraud to skyrocket. A switch to an open ballot system, which again I think is a worthwhile pursuit, will need to be accompanied with very strong technical and legal countermeasures to prevent this.

Comment Re:Broken Windows Policing (Score 4, Insightful) 191

The problem in any kind of engineering -- and we're talking about social engineering here -- is that everything has its drawbacks.

The foundation of modern policing is a focus on two functions: bringing people to justice, and keeping the peace. You can unquestionably obtain gains in controlling certain kinds of disorder by adding a third function to he police: acting as an instrument behavioral control on the populace. The drawback is that this puts police into a position of habitual conflict with populations they serve, undermining the Peelian principle that the police are the people, and the people the police.

Over time the police begin to be viewed less as public servants and more like an occupying army. Since this process takes time, we ought to be skeptical of short term results that show improvements in statistical measures of public order. Think of public respect and cooperation for the police as a kind of social capital. If in toting up progress you ignore the capital you're spending you're not getting a true picture.

Public cooperation has been the foundation of successful policing for almost two hundred years, since Robert Peel established the Metropolitan Police in 1829. We should think long and hard about abandoning, or even tinkering with that model.

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