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Comment Re:"Precious Bandwidth"? (Score 1) 505

Yes, let's step back into the real world:

1. Being held liable for guest's actions:

TL;DR - Man was accused of downloading child porn after a neighbor used his AP to do so. He was cleared after some time, but not after being raided by SWAT; arrested; and having his name and reputation smeared all over the media.

2. ISP TOS: Part 1 "[...] You may not use the Service to: [...] Resell or redistribute the Service to any third party via any means including but not limited to wireless technology." Break the TOS and I break the contract, which is terms for Cox to drop my service. Get another ISP? Well, maybe you have a surfeit of broadband choices in SF, but in my neck of the woods, there's only two -- and the other has the exact same TOS clause.

Every bit of this comes back to my main point. There are risks and rewards associated with running an open AP. I've detailed the risks. Are the rewards worth taking those risks? For you -- yes. For me -- no.

Comment Re:"Precious Bandwidth"? (Score 1) 505

Heh. FUD? I'm not sure that means what you think it means. Describing why I do not run an open AP is not, in any way, an attempt to scare other people off from doing so. Clearly your priorities are different from mine. They hardly invalidate mine.

I stand by my reasons, since they are reasons that matter to me:

1. It absolutely is possible to be legally persecuted and prosecuted for actions that a guest does. That hasn't happened to you? Awesome! I NEVER want it to happen to me.

2. My ISP TOS absolutely do forbid sharing the connection. Your don't? Cool. I'm not going to risk losing my service for this.

3. Allowing somebody on my internal LAN absolutely opens up a plethora of security concerns. Your network is properly locked down? Very responsible of you! Mine isn't and I'm not willing to devote the time to do it.

Comment "Precious Bandwidth"? (Score 3, Informative) 505

I'm not entirely certain why the article lists "siphoning precious bandwidth" as the reason most people would lock down their Wi-Fi. It seems highly unlikely that that would come into play at all, most of the time, much less be the main reason.

No, there are three reasons why I don't have an open AP:

1. Legal liability for a guest's action is spotty. Technically speaking, I know that I am not liable if a guest performs an illegal act using my AP. What's the likelihood that a police officer or prosecutor would give me the benefit of the doubt while investigating the crime, though? The most likely course of action is that I spend some time in jail or under arrest until my innocence is proven.

2. My ISP TOS expressly forbids sharing the service. As long as they aren't doing deep packet sniffing (and they might be), it's possible I could set up the open AP such that everything is NAT'ed through a known server. The risk of doing so is getting my service cut off, though.

3. Allowing a rogue agent in my network drastically reduces the security of the network. I could create a locked down subnetwork just for the open AP, but that would be a notable amount of work.

So I have risks that involve jail time; termination of service; and/or loss of my personal data. What are the rewards? I feel good about helping my fellow man?

Not worth it at all.

Comment Verizon... AT&T... T-Mobile -- it depends! (Score 2) 375

Each of the three major carriers are good is some ways and terrible in others. It all depends on what your priorities are.

Verizon has the best overall coverage US-wide. I've been to many areas that didn't have AT&T or T-Mobile coverage but have never found a place that didn't have Verizon coverage. That's about it.

AT&T has the fastest data speeds in most of the areas that it does cover (3G or LTE). Also, you can use data and voice at the same time on all of their smartphones right now. They are also less expensive than Verizon in most cases. Coverage is worse, though.

T-Mobile has ultra-low prices and the best customer service. Worst coverage and slow data speeds, though.

Oh, and there's Sprint. No idea if they will even be around this time next year.

I've been with all four. I'm with AT&T right now since I don't need Verizon's roaming coverage and would rather pay less and have faster speeds now.

Comment Failed argument on all counts (Score 5, Insightful) 936

This reasoning fails in at least three fundamental ways.

First, the Loch Ness Monster simply doesn't exist. No reputable scientist would claim that it does, or even that it could exist in the way that it is commonly portrayed.

Second, it's not even necessary for dinosaurs to still exist to support their argument. There are already well-known animals alive today that have been virtually unchanged since the dinosaur times. Alligators and crocodiles are the best examples I can think of, off the top of my head.

Third, as the existence of alligators shows, even if dinosaurs did still exist, that doesn't in any possible way "disprove" the Theory of Evolution. I'm not entirely certain what reasoning would have to apply so that their existence would matter at all.

Really, this mostly just goes to show that any "debate" on the topic is fruitless when one side thinks that an argument like this completely invalidates proven scientific fact. How can you argue against that?

Comment Re:Applications Don't Matter Anymore (Score 2) 1091

The good tax programs are all web-based now.

Sure, until you get into filing anything more than the 1040EZ.

This isn't accurate. Web-based tax apps are now easily as full featured as their desktop variants. I've used TaxCut Online for some years, now, and have been able to do so relatively complex returns that way (investments, small business employer, etc).

Comment Distance (Score 1) 343

My main criteria for choosing an elementary school for my kids is distance. That is, can they walk to it on their own? If yes, then I'm good.

I understand why other parents shop around for the "best" elementary schools, but I don't know that their reasoning is sound, in all (most?) cases. In the end, nearly all schools will be roughly the same. Yes, there are going to be some outliers in both directions, but those are the exceptions.

In most cases, the school will have a mix of good teachers, mediocre teachers, and outright bad teachers. It is my job as a parent to make sure that my kids learn what they need to learn regardless of what kind of teacher they have. That means nightly discussions on what they learned in school that day plus an overview of their homework. If the teacher is good, then my involvement doesn't need to go much beyond that. If the teacher is bad (like my daughter's 5th grade math teacher -- terrible!), then it's my responsibility to step up and fill in the gaps.

So yeah, if the school ended up being one of the terrible outliers, then the amount of time I would need to invest would likely drive me to find a different school... and yeah, a great outlier would mean less time for me, but who cares?

Comment It's the sites, not the access (Score 2) 270

The problem with this approach is that it focuses on the end user's connectivity and not the effect such laws would have on the web sites themselves. Who cares if you have unfettered access to all sites when the sites don't exist due to legal threats.

Let's take Slashdot as an example. Say something like SOPA/PIPA/ACTA/etc eventually succeeds and it becomes very easy to shut down any website with just a suggestion of copyright infringement on the site. That is, if somebody posted a link to The Pirate Bay in the comments, then somebody else could get Slashdot as a whole effectively shut down as a result. And yes, that's what could happen with laws such as SOPA.

What do you think happens to sites like Slashdot in an environment like this? The only reasonable response would be to drastically limit, if not eliminate, all user comments.

Meanwhile, the Slashdot user deftly installs the circumvention software and is easily able to get to Slashdot... but who cares? Without the comments, the entire site has only marginal value.

That's why circumvention software is only a tiny part of a workaround and one that will eventually fail. It's the sites that need to be protected, not the access.

Comment Too little; too late? (Score 1) 29

I had really high hopes for the various Linux-based mobile OSes last year and before... but I wonder if it's too little; too late at this point. By all accounts, WP7 is very very slick, yet it has negligible market share and even less mind share. What advantage will this new merged OS have?

Also, the software developer side of me has extremely high doubts that this will be doable in any reasonable time frame. Merging any kind of software is tricky; merging an OS is a herculean task. And for what?

Comment Re:I disagree. (Score 3, Insightful) 99

I hear this theory quite a bit and I believe that Lucas himself has said this to be the case. I don't buy it. The entire Jedi mythology holds that it's the Jedi's mastery of the Force that gives him the ability to fight with a light saber. They made it very explicit with Yoda's fight with Dooku -- Yoda was hundreds of years old and practically disabled, but his immense mastery of the Force gave him incredible fighting abilities. If anything, Obi-Wan and Vader's age should have increased their skills, not decreased them.

Comment FreeBSD vs Linux -- 1994 edition (Score 1) 487

I remember the first time I looked into FreeBSD. It was back in 1994 and I needed to run some Unix variant on my 386 and it came down to FreeBSD or Linux. At the time, FreeBSD seemed to be significantly farther along than Linux... but in a completely unusable way, to me. I was a rank newbie to Unix that had just learned how to exit 'vi' without powering down the computer. FreeBSD had almost no documentation and certainly none for somebody like me.

Linux, on the other hand, had the Linux Documentation Project (LDP). The docs there were incredible! I hogged the computer lab's laser printer printing off the SAG and the NAG and, most importantly, Matt Welsh's 'Installation and Getting Started Guide'.

It was no contest. FreeBSD was an impenetrable mystery but 60 something floppies of Slackware later and I was hooked on Linux for life.

Comment Re:A fatal flaw in Christianity. (Score 1) 943

Nah, this is a fatal flaw only if you attempt to base Christianity on logic. Religions don't work that way. The key component is Faith, as in "my feeble human mind cannot hope to grasp God's grand design, so I have FAITH that it is true".

I grew up as a fundamentalist Christian but never thought that Adam was a real person. Genesis was always an allegory. I always assumed that it was only the Catholics that cared about "original sin" and the like.

Oh, you say that without "original sin" that quite a bit of Christianity falls apart? Yeah, that's going through the whole "logic" route again. I had faith.

Comment Re:iPhone 5 replacement for disappointed Apple fan (Score 1) 246

I think you summarized the Android v iOS question pretty well. I'm in a similar boat -- a long time iOS user that's wanted to move to Android, but it's just not there yet. Maybe Ice Cream Sandwich will be?

I do have to take exception with one thing you said, though: "Apple...refused to produce and release any significant hardware improvements [in the 4S]". I hear refrains like this all over the place and just don't get it. The 4S has the same screen and case profile as the 4 but everything else is updated. The hardware improvements are massive! Sooo.... no new screen and no NFC and they haven't made any? Odd.

But yeah, Nexus Prime plus Ice Cream Sandwich looks like it might finally catch up to the iPhone + iOS. That leaves hope that a later model might actually supersede it.

Comment How to transition from primarily criminal usage? (Score 1) 768

BitCoins are currently used almost exclusively in financial transactions of an illicit nature. You want to buy drugs online and not be traced? Head to the dark webs with BitCoins at the ready! There are clear advantages to using BitCoins if what you are doing is illegal and so it makes perfect sense for them to take off in that market.

But eventually, one would want to use BitCoins to pay for legal services. My question is; how do you get to that point? Why would a legitimate business accept a currency that is used almost exclusively for illegal means? What is the strategy to convince mainstream businesses that BitCoins have a purpose in the main web, as well?

Comment Yes, and it was about time! (Score 1) 528

I was a juror on a murder trial just a month ago (full/long story here: I have wanted to be on a jury for years, though.

Why? Well, any society will eventually veer towards tyranny. This is the natural order of things. There are only two avenues of power that an average citizen has to prevent this from happening: voting and juries.

The reasons for voting are pretty obvious. They are the way for otherwise powerless citizens to influence what those in power do. As time goes by, though, the power of the vote diminishes... at least here in the US. We're at the stage where nearly all candidates to any political office are controlled almost entirely by corporations and other special interest groups. It's very much a "damned if you do; damned if you don't" situation.

That leaves jury duty as the sole incorruptible source of power for the average Joe. The entrenched power structure will always try to use the laws to keep the powerless under control. The ONLY thing keeping that from happening entirely is the jury of your peers standing between you and those that would suppress you. A jury, then, is there to protect the defendant as much as possible.

Now... I'm not naive. I realize that many (most?) juries exist just to put a rubber stamp on whatever the prosecutor is telling them. But it doesn't have to be that way. If enough principal minded citizens go out of their way to *not* be excluded from the jury, then this can change.

I do realize the perceived hypocrisy of me talking about protecting the defendant when, in the one case I was a juror on, we judged him guilty. I don't see that as a problem, though. A jury doesn't exist to subvert justice but rather to ensure that justice is served. This guy was definitely guilty.

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