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Comment Alexa skills (Score 1) 210

Most are uninteresting, useless, or easier to do some other way. Its great to be able to come home and talk to it and have my lights go on, or tell it what song to play from Spotify, or ask it about the weather - when it actually understands. Having tried to develop an Alexa skill for my own use, its clear how the only way to get it to react to natural sentences is for the skill developer to come up with pretty much every combination and ordering of words for which the user might convey what it is that they want. And even then, with context provided, it has almost no ability to deal with words where homynyms exist. Tell it that the user will speak a number in between two other words, and when the user says "two" or "four" in between those two words, it doesn't care that a number is supposed to go there and instead insists the user meant "to", "too", "for" or "fore". My favorite is when I tried to have it recognize the word "main" it insisted I was saying "Maine". Bottom line, its no better than other voice recognition technologies which can usually form words pretty well from the sounds that are spoken, but really struggles to chose the one that makes sense when alternatives exist.

Comment Re:If one employee had done this (Score 1) 341

Too big to fail = too big to jail. Its worse than this. Too big to fail = too big to punish in any meaningful way - the only thing that will get their attention is a fine or restriction on their business practices so extensive that it threatens to put them out of business or permanently cripple them - which can't ever be done because they're supposedly too big to fail. By their sheer size they have us over a barrel, and they know it, and there's nothing we can do to stop them from growing even larger - well, except for breaking them apart, but we lack the political will.

Comment Re:rotten at the top (Score 1) 341

a) was Wells Fargo losing money? No. So terrible analogy. This was institutional greed, not do this or go out of business.

b) if you know that your employees are breaking the law, or reasonably should know, and you turn the other cheek, then yes, you are responsible.

c) personally, I received an unwanted credit card from Wells Fargo - I went to one branch, found out a teller at another branch submitted the application. I went to that branch to confront the teller, who was supposedly not working that day. The manager at that branch, who I also spoke to, played dumb, did nothing, refused to tell me what would happen to this teller, citing privacy, and somehow succeeded in acting completely unsuprised by my story while also claiming no knowledge. I also went back a week later to find out what she learned about the situation, since she promised to follow up. She seemed annoyed to see me, to say the least. So, no, I can't prove that she knew, or that anyone above her didn't know, but I'd be shocked if she didn't know.

Comment Uh, yeah.... (Score 1) 707

"destroying the relationship" between advertisers and consumers"

This is like saying "destroying the relationship between rapists and their victims".

There's freedom of speech, but we should also have a right to 'freedom from speech' - it shouldn't be allowed to yell "fire! fire!" in a crowded movie theater just as someone advertising their business by shouting through a bullhorn outside someone's house at 3AM should also not be allowed. If someone wants to speak, there's a reasonable level of unobtrusiveness that they should not be able to exceed but many ads on the web do just that. Inventions have come and gone (VCR's, TiVO, anyone?) that could have just as conceivably "[destroyed] the relationship between advertises and consumers" (and were subjected to exactly these arguments when they started to become popular) and yet both advertisers, consumers and the relationship between them (for better or worse) is very much alive and kicking.

Comment Re:Waze in LA is dangerous (Score 1) 86

Interesting to know that, I've never seen it do that - in fact I'm surprised that it is aware of the difference in traffic congestion between two parallel lanes on the same freeway - usually people's cell phones can't determine their location with such precision as to differentiate between different lanes on the same road.

Comment Waze in LA is dangerous (Score 1) 86

Using Waze to navigate in LA is terribly unsafe - I live here, I've used it and what typically happens is it diverts you on to side streets, and then from those side streets has you try to make a left hand turn onto a major, busy 8-lane boulevard where there is no traffic signal to help you. In LA, that's legal, but most of us think its dangerous, if not outright suicidal. Worse, instead of left turns, sometimes it tells you to proceed on a side street across such a wide, busy boulevard, again where there's no traffic signal to help you. Nearly everyone who lives here whom I've talked to in person or online and has used Waze has similar experiences to my own and also thinks its dangerous.

Our mayor ought to be working with Waze so that their navigation algorithm stops offering such 'advice', for the safety of everyone. Barring that, the city ought to send Waze data on traffic accidents they've caused, and Waze, in turn, can send the city a warning every time it suggests such an unsafe move to a driver so that ambulances can be dispatched preemptively.

Beyond that, most of Waze's detours on to side streets are in to neighborhoods that used to see only minimal vehicular traffic before Waze came along. They've got noticably more traffic now, and the folks that in these areas are upset. A lot more dangerous for their kids to play on the street, for one thing, and of course their neighborhoods aren't as quiet any more. Personally I think we all pay taxes for all these streets, so we ought to be able to use them as we please, but these people do have some valid points and there's no denying Waze's impact on traffic patterns where they live.

Comment Re:Intractably horrible. (Score 1) 354

I suppose that it probably depends upon Comcast's agreements with the various cities / communities that its contracted with to offer services, but generally cable companies, and thus cable internet providers, have some sort of agreement to exclusively offer cable services in specific geographic areas - in effect legalized monopolies - but I'd be very surprised if, having such monopolies, they'd be allowed to pick and choose who in those geographic areas they will sell to, and to refuse to sell to anyone else. Of course, this is probably going to turn out against the way it probably ought to work, because companies and governments are not too isolated from one another these days, I'm sure these agreements are grossly favorable to the companies and not the consumers.

Comment Re:Libel? (Score 1) 354

"Skipping over the finer details of how this probably isn't a "false accusation of criminal conduct",..."

Well, its a given that an accusation of copyright infringement is an accusation of criminal conduct, being that copyright infringement is against the law.

As for the accusation being or not being false, its very possible that it is false, especially if the criteria is that the party making the accusation must have a good faith and reasonable belief that the accusation is true. Under this system, if my ISP accuses me of copyright infringement, all they are basing it on is the copyright holder providing them with an IP address that they don't like, that happens to be mine. The ISP itself has no other basis for believing me to have engaged in copyright infringement except the word of the copyright holder. The copyright holder isn't providing them with evidence - it isn't even outlining what the evidence is. Its just the copyright holder saying "hey, the guy with this IP address is infringing! Trust us!". That's not exactly proof, or evidence, is it?

As for it being libelous or slanderous - (I forget which, but one of those is written / published word, the other is just spoken word), it depends again. Nominally the warning would be private. After all, they're just displaying a warning to me when I try to use my internet connection, right? Ok, now suppose someone is at my house using my computer or watching me use my computer when this warning pops up. Now, in their eyes, I'm a criminal. Now my reputation is damaged with that person. They may even spread the word. So the accusation is not private and for purposes of a person's reputation, might as well be public. There simply should not be a reasonable expectation that everything that appears on my computer screen is private and will only be viewed by me.

Comment Re:no, it's not a good thing (Score 1) 354

Its rather absurd, I think, but the idea that agreements entered in to while under duress should be invalid got lost somewhere along the way. A good example of this is when employees are laid off by a corporation - usually the layoff is accompanied by a termination agreement, which is basically you agreeing to take some money from the company in exchange for you not suing them for laying you off, or for anything else. The idea that for most people, the layoff is going to proceed whether they like it or not, and that they'll soon find themselves out on the street without the money being offered long before they could ever get to court, and the fact that one party of the "agreement" (the company) has placed the other party (the employee) in the position where they basically have no choice to agree, doesn't seem to carry any legal weight, which is beyond unfair.

Comment Re:Libel? (Score 1) 354

I'm no lawyer but from what I've read, with certain types of accusations (aka de facto libel) you only need to prove that the libel was incurred - you do not need to prove specific damages to collect. And yes, false accusations of criminal conduct qualifies as de facto libel in most US states.

Comment Re:I like this idea (Score 1) 354

I don't think downloading itself really constitutes a reproduction. If user A has an MP3 file of a copyrighted song, and the contents of that file are transmitted from user A to user B, but user B never actually records the contents of the file, not even to memory, but simply discards the contents of the file bit by bit (or byte by byte) as they arrive, then no copy has ever been created and user B has done nothing wrong.

Moreover, a 3rd party monitoring the communication between user A and user B might be able to tell that the contents of the MP3 file were transmitted from user A to user B, but without having access to user B's computer, has no way to determine if user B recorded the contents, or discarded them as they arrived.

So a 3rd Party monitoring internet communications can prove distribution, but cannot prove reproduction.

Granted, if user B tried this defense, they might be forced to turn over their computer for analysis, or it might not pass the smell test with the judge or the jury (after all, why else would user B initiate a transfer of the file to their computer if not to record it?), but technically, its true.

Comment Re:There always is the alternative... (Score 1) 354

Sure it does. What interests of the artists are the record companies protecting? Artists are generally making money off of concerts, not record sales. Yes, they're making (probably) more money off of concerts than they otherwise would due to the record companies promoting their albums. But record companies are not the only ones who can promote albums effectively. Keeping the record companies in business does not serve the artists.

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