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Comment Re:AT&T's Fault? (Score 1) 265

The cases are often dismissed and if not they rarely if ever go to trial.

Not going to trial does not mean the plaintiff's case has no merit. There are several great reasons to settle a case without going to trial. Here are a few.

  • The settlement offer is high enough to make the extra expense of trial plus chance of losing in court less attractive to the plaintiff.
  • Settling out of court does not create precedent. And bad facts make bad law. Citizens really should be careful about what they take to trial.
  • A settlement means it is over. No appeals, no chance of the plaintiff losing the case, etc.

It is almost always better for everyone to settle cases rather than go to court. Faster, cheaper, satisfactory results for both sides, etc. People suing to "make a point", as "a matter of principle", or to punish a wrongdoer have completely misunderstood the US civil legal system.

Comment Re:Is opening a spouses mail a crime? (Score 1) 496

This might come as a surprise to you but you give up a lot of privacy to your spouse when you get married.

Unless given in family law statutes or case law. You do not give up any civil rights when you marry. You gain some rights and responsibilities, such as Next of Kin status, the ability to obligate a spouse for financial liabilities, the right of inheritance in cases where no will exists, and a few other common to all states issues. And in community property states, marriage entangles wealth and debts acquired from the date of the marriage.

If you think you have lost privacy, it is only because you have voluntarily given it up. Even if you did not explicitly agree. Many people assume that they have gained the right to invade their partners privacy when they say "I do," and many spouses do not object when it happens. But it is not automatic.

Comment Re:Is opening a spouses mail a crime? (Score 1) 496

How about a more common sense approach to the question?
When you're married, what's yours is hers, what's hers is hers, and what's our's is hers. That's the way it's always been, unless prenuptuals were signed.

Be careful about "common sense." It is usually and seriously naive. I don't know what you mean by "the way it's always been." So I'll just talk about the way it is. Every person has natural (as opposed to "civil") rights to privacy. US statute and case law supports privacy as a civil right.

Here is why it is important to recognize the individual right of privacy in domestic matters: domestic abuse. The most common (according to the Family Justice Center Alliance ( indicator for domestic abuse are various forms of controlling behavior. These include isolating the victim by restricting access to money, phones, the Internet (email, facebook, etc), and postal mail.

All parties (including children) in a domestic arrangement have a reasonable expectation of privacy. Just how far reaching that privacy is has been the subject of many court cases and is pretty well established. In all matters of domestic privacy, the individuals involved can give up some or all of their legal privacy, but it takes a declaration to do so. Full expectations of privacy is the default.

As the courts and legislatures have slowly determined that men do not own their wives and parents do not own their children, the privacy rights of individuals has steadily increased in breadth.

In my not so humble opinion, this is a damn good thing. I permit my spouse to open my mail, look through my wallet, put money into and take money out of the bank. My spouse can have friends I don't know about and friends I don't like. My spouse is a autonomous being. Our marriage grants certain rights, but it does not, in anyway, remove any.

Comment Re:Good for us Sellers (Score 1) 171

"No taxation without representation" is the principle.

Except that sales/use tax (which is what this case started out as) is paid by the buyer, not the seller. That means the person paying the tax is represented. The interesting question then becomes can a local jurisdiction require a seller who has no physical presence in that jurisdiction collect and deliver the taxes

Does selling to a customer in that local jurisdiction count as "doing business" in that jurisdiction. This has been to the courts over the years. I don't remember any of the cases anymore, but I have a vague memory of this same issue coming up from catalog sales. In all those cases, the courts ruled in the sellers favor if the seller did not have a physical presence in the buyer's state. It is considered an undo burden on the seller to be held responsible for charging and collecting sales/use tax for all the possible jurisdictions.

Comment Old and crotchety (Score 1) 483

'There are many people who despise Flash, but I'm not sure they'd love the alternative right out of the gate.'

My alternative to Flash is .... no Flash. No video at all, in fact. With some obvious exceptions, Flash is used to (attempt) fill half my browser with advertisements. I do not like to be razzle-dazzled when I'm trying to use some companies website. I would be more excited about the possible demise of Flash if I weren't absolutely certain that something else will take its place. And that new thing will bring with it a whole new set of evils.

All that said, I have been a very slow adopter of "new" technologies. Windowing environments were around for a long time before I used them. And I spend most of my work day at a bash command line or in Emacs.

Comment Re:I love flashblock (Score 1) 208

The bigger question is, will asshole web developers use canvases in places where straight up text would have worked just fine, and force us to deal with their CPU eating abominations for no good reason at all?

It might be a big question, but it has a little answer: Yes. We have a very long history of "new" technologies becoming available followed by a consistant pattern of hack, crack, and crap from human beings. As long as regular people are doing regular things with the regular tools available are working in that new technology, it will never become standard. People are attached to their point of view and will fight to the death to defend cherished beliefs. It is human nature. It is also human nature to believe that our reason is the right/good/rational reason and others' reasons are the wrong/bad/stupid/irrational reasons.

Comment Old Enough (Score 1) 495

The value of 3D over 2D is no more than the value of color over black and white. I do not have binocular vision, but I do not see how my enjoyment of a movie in 3D will be degraded any more than someone with severe color blindness has problems with color. I've not seen any recent 3D, so I don't know if it is still the cheesy crap that was tried 40 years ago (or currently in Disney theme parks). I live my life in seeing 2D in a 3D world. Not a big deal.

Comment Re:The difference? (Score 1) 586

A lot of activities and mental states which do not harm people are considered morally wrong. For example, homosexuality, coveting and envy, pride, "thoughtcrime" in the novel, 1984, etc.

That list is considered morally wrong by SOME people under SOME belief systems.

Comment Re:You know what's really sad? (Score 2, Insightful) 902

The US government is more careful about "privacy" now than it has ever been. It is the American culture that has radically changed. Withholding information from the government is a relatively new phenomenon in the US. The "right of privacy" was established by the Warren Court (one of the many very bad decisions that court made). And the American People have demanded more and more of it. Keeping some information private from corporations (like insurance companies) is self defense, but the government is really not the enemy.

Comment Re:-1 Troll (Score 1) 641

I fall back to Princess Bride, I don't think that word means what your think it means. Open Source is anarchistic, not democratic. If it were democratic, a vote would be taken and the issue decided thus binding everyone in the given community to that decision. On any given project, at any given time, anyone can take the source tree and change everything about it without the consent, or even the knowledge, of the original developer or team. Nobody is bound to an existing set of design constraints.

Comment Re:Beneficial to Be Difficult (Score 1) 613

I wonder how much the IRS figures into its revenue stream the profit obtained via people filing taxes and not knowing what they're doing.

Except that the IRS crosschecks the returns against what is known. Over the years (admittedly, a lot of years), I've screwed up my taxes in favor of the government a few times that the IRS caught. They sent the return back with the problems stated. And that is a very expensive process. There are no conspiracies to cheat the taxpayer, just unwieldy tax codes and bureaucratic sluggishness coupled with the all too human resistance to change. I can never quite decide if I should be laughing hysterically at the antics of governments or wallowing in the despair of the almost certain future our species is creating each passing day. Sometimes it is very good to be old.

Comment Re:Huh? (Score 1) 305

The contract stipulates that Microsoft gets paid regardless of whether schools actually use their software. So while the schools may not be forced through contract to use MS software, it doesn't matter to Microsoft as they still get paid for non-existent software.

It matters to M$ a great deal. What the children get used to using is what the adults they become will want to use. Teach an entire generation of computer users that Microsoft (and Apple) are not particularly relevant and M$ will have a bit of a problem winning them over when they are running companies 30 years from now.

Comment Re:WTF? (Score 1) 152

As long as there are people there will be people who devise new scams and people who will fall for them. I've often said, "We need to educate {some group} about {some topic}" But I finally realized that, generally, adults don't tend to want to learn about stuff that doesn't have some immediate impact on their day to day lives. As an example, how often do we need to say, "Don't open unsolicited email" to have an impact of that method of malware distribution. Or as Will Turner said, "At least once more."

Unlocking Android 117

Michael J. Ross writes "Of all the potential challengers to Apple's phenomenally popular iPhone, perhaps the one with the best prospects is Google's Android, which is not a mobile phone per se, but rather an open-source platform that the company encourages phone manufacturers to deploy in their own products. Similarly, Google encourages computer programmers to develop applications for the Android environment. But learning how to create such applications is daunting to the uninitiated, particularly for developers who have never before worked with the user interface controls, Web services, and other resources involved. A recently published book, Unlocking Android, is designed to help such developers." Read below for the rest of Michael's review.

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