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Comment Re:Information Annuities (Score 3, Insightful) 123

Exactly.

Retailers, advertisers, marketers, product planners, financial analysts, government agencies, and so many others will eagerly pay to get access to that information.

Where are the legislators who will put a stop to this crap? Stricter laws that limit what data may be collected, for which purposes, and with whom and in what form it may be shared. And stiff penalties for violations or for culpable data breaches. I suggest public drawing and quartering.

Comment Re:Back in my younger days... (Score 1) 241

Yeah I remember those. Broken cables or bent metal plates on the "switches", easy fixes. And walkmans! The 3.5mm jack in those would inevitably work itself loose from the PCB; another easy fix that not many people were able to carry out. In other words: great ways for a high school kid to make some extra money...

I still always try to fix something myself before tossing it or calling a repair guy, from cars to washing machines. And it's still a great way to save money.

Comment Re:They did it to themselves (Score 1) 241

It may be true that in a lot of cases it is no longer really economically viable to have manufacturers repair stuff. Especially if the customer isn't just paying for the repair guy but also for a bunch of bureaucratic overhead. But that's precisely why this is a good law: to ensure that small corner shops without all that overhead, or the handy customer who doesn't place a high price on a few hours of his spare time, are allowed and enabled to make those repairs themselves.

Comment Re:Unjust (Score 4, Interesting) 185

In some cases it amounts to the appointed caretakers robbing the owners (shareholders). Sometimes the major shareholders are pension funds and large institutional investors and the like, being run by the same type of guys who do not mind awarding their pals such sums; it comes out of their clients' pockets so who cares. Sometimes they even sit on each other's Renumeration Boards (committees tasked with setting "fair" wages for C-levels and non-executive officers). I;ve seen one of those in action and it really amounted to one hand washing the other, to the point where even institutional investors put "overly generous exec renumeration" in their analysis of the company.

Comment Re:Not that expensive (Score 1) 243

That's a real concern, I suppose. Torrents of new movies, out in the cinemas but not yet on Bluray, are usually only available as crappy cams with shitty audio, not at all worth watching. (Ahem, or so I am told by those who do such things...) But having them available as high quality streams early on would make it a lot easier to provide a high quality illegal copy.

I for one would welcome this. There are plenty of movies that we'd like to watch at home instead of in the cinema, and I'd pay extra to watch the really new stuff. $50? Why not. Maybe they can throw in a good discount for buying the Bluray later (and when are we going to get those in download-to-own form???)

Comment Re:Thanks. Mr. Obvious (Score 2) 246

It's not about dodging liability, but defining what that liability actually is, and where the blame should lie. An accident caused by worn out breaks is not a "defect" in the sense that the manufacturer is to blame, or should carry the cost. An accident caused by the software misinterpreting a very common situation clearly is. But what if the car gets hacked? One may be able to apply exising laws there: did the manufacturer take all precautions, adhere to good coding practices and security standards, did they vet and test 3rd party libraries and keep them up to date, have thorough security audits and testing? If so, a judge may well decide that the car manufacturer cannot be held to blame any more than they can be held to blame for sabotage like cut brake lines.

What about a case where the car's software makes a mistake because of a combination of very unusual atmospheric and situational circumstances? At first these will probably all be on the car manufacturer's insurance, but when it becomes clearer what the capabilities and shortcomings of such cars actually are, a judge might rule that some accidents are due to unfortunate circumstances rather than the manufacturer's fault. We'll probably need a new law to determine whose insurance should pay in that case.

Comment Re:Thanks. Mr. Obvious (Score 1) 246

The laws menstioned in the article already provide some examples: when the owner tampers with the vehicle, fails to have it serviced properly, or doesn't install critical software updates. There are some other examples, depending on your local laws. Here in the Netherlands, in accidents involving a car and a bike or pedestrian, the car owner is always held liable (not responsible, but liable) unless they can show intent or gross negligence by the other party, which almost never happens. Not looking while crossing the road or not having proper lights on a bicycle doesn't count, for example. Without getting into the rights and wrongs of such a rule, it does mean that not all of the liability for accidents involving SDCs can be shifted to the manufacturer, if it can be shown that such cars can not reasonably be expected to account for all possible misconduct by other road users.

But like the GP I expect that the point will quickly become moot: if the accident rates drop far enough, car insurance will take the form of regular 3rd part liability insurance (price of a few cups of coffee)

Comment Re:Thanks. Mr. Obvious (Score 1) 246

I don't have much of a problem with that, as long as they put in legislation to govern what they can do with the data and with whom they can share it. And few legislators show a decent understanding of privacy-related issues; they either say "can't collect that", or "now that we have the data anyway, lets..." Most countries already have laws that state data cannot be used for purposes other than those for which it was gathered, but in the age of IoT, isn't it time for additional laws that force companies to narrow down those stated purposes, instead of letting them get away with "purpose of collection is whatever we say it is".

And what about law enforcement? Will they only get access to data on specific individuals, and only with a judge's permission? Which such a smorgasbord of data it'll be too tempting to ask for wider access Because terrorists. Or to issue speeding tickets. What about other government agencies? They might want to check on people as well and see if they aren't cheating on their taxes. Once you go down that slippery slope, the discussion will focus entirely on ways we can use this data to catch what are essentially wrongdoers, privacy considerations will not be a factor. And then we haven't even touched upon the issue of oversight.

So come to think of it, I do have a problem with that... Looking at the people and the discussion in Parliament here and elsewhere in Europe, I have little faith in adequate legislation being drafted anytime soon (though Germany might be the exception).

Comment Re:The end is nigh... (Score 1) 63

Out of curiosity: what is the current status of the stuff posted on DA? Mandatory "free" license like CC? Artist sets the license? Small print that says DA reserve the right to use the content in any way it sees fit? And has DA ever actually exercised such a right before? In any case, this just goes to show that all cool free services eventually turn into ad peddling and/or privacy raping dicks, or sell out to similar dicks.

Comment Real coders? (Score 4, Insightful) 332

piecing together lines of code taken from existing software -- just like a programmer might.

Ehm, right. Because all coders do all day is cut & paste code snippets from StackOverflow. And those snippets are placed there by the tooth fairy?

The idea isn't exactly new, and there have been some attempts in the past to build code generators which string together finely-grained mini routines from specifications into a working bit of software. But those have proved to be problematic, especially when it comes to maintenance, change requests, and multi-threading. Keep in mind that today's software engineering isn't straightforward input -> process -> output anymore; even the simplest apps have to deal with asynchronous stuff in UI, database and networking code, and the resulting problems aren't solved simply by piecing together the right code snippets. Not saying that there will never be an "AI" that is able to code, and research like this is pretty interesting, but in this form this isn't job threatening in the least.

Comment Re:not surprised (Score 1) 67

I've heard similar stories from Tesla X owners. However I have also heard it from owners of other cars, especially when it's the first run of a new model. Volvos with transmission problems. BMWs with tons of small but annoying electrical issues. Leaky Audis. And so on. But yeah, I would sooner buy an S than an X. Or another Jag, we had to sell our lovely '99 XJ, what an incredible drive that was... Silky-smooth 8 cylinders, a body from before the invention of aerodynamics. And cup holders designed for whisky tumblers...

Comment Re:Owning a cat is and of itself a mental illness (Score 1) 249

Get an automatic litter box like the Litter Robot. We have one of those and they work as advertised: easy to change and to clean, and no more smells. The only drawback is that they are fairly bulky; mine fits snugly in a 60x80cm cabinet space reserved for a washing machine. They are pricey but I'm still using the one I bought almost 15 years ago.

Comment Re:Other way? (Score 1) 249

They're mostly layabout, but if they get bored they'll wreck your shit and not feel slightly remorseful about it. Another cat will give them something to do when you're not around instead of causing random mayhem in your domicile.

Two cats just means twice the damage. Perhaps more: our two cats love chasing each other with complete disregard for anything in their surroundings.

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