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Submission + - "The Internet is Oreos", ISP Claims To FCC (consumerist.com)

Rick Schumann writes:

Ars Technica first spotted the crumbly filing, from small (and much-loathed) provider Mediacom.

Mediacom’s comment is in response to the same proceeding that Netflix commented on earlier this month. However, while Netflix actually addressed data and the ways in which their customers use it, Mediacom went for the more metaphor-driven approach.

The letter literally starts out under the header, “You Have to Pay Extra For Double-Stuffed,” and posits that you, the consumer, are out for a walk with $2 in your pocket when you suddenly develop a ferocious craving for Oreo (®) cookies.

Submitter Rick Schumann adds:

Of course their analogy is highly questionable, since transmitting data over a network doesn't actually consume anything, now does it? You eat the cookie, the cookie is gone, but you transmit data over a network, the network is still there and can transmit data endlessly. Mediacom's assertion that the Internet is like a cookie you eat, is like saying copying a file on your computer somehow diminishes or degrades the original file, which of course is rediculous.


Submission + - What are the FLOSS community's answers to Siri and AI? (upon2020.com)

jernst writes: A decade ago, we in the free and open-source community could build our own versions of pretty much any proprietary software system out there, and we did. Publishing, collaboration, commerce, you name it. Some apps were worse, some were better than closed alternatives, but much of it was clearly good enough to use every day.

But is this still true? For example, voice control is clearly going to be a primary way we interact with our gadgets in the future. Speaking to an Amazon Echo-like device while sitting on my couch makes a lot more sense than using a web browser. Will we ever be able to do that without going through somebody’s proprietary silo like Amazon’s or Apple’s? Where are the free and/or open-source versions of Siri, Alexa and so forth?

The trouble, of course, is not so much the code, but in the training. The best speech recognition code isn’t going to be competitive unless it has been trained with about as many millions of hours of example speech as the closed engines from Apple, Google and so forth have been. How can we do that?

The same problem exists with AI. There’s plenty of open-source AI code, but how good is it unless it gets training and retraining with gigantic data sets? We don’t have those in the FLOSS world, and even if we did, would we have the money to run gigantic graphics card farms 24×7? Will we ever see truly open AI that is not black-box machinery guarded closely by some overlord company, but something that “we can study how it works, change it so it does our computing as we wish” and all the other values embodied in the Free Software Definition?

Who has a plan, and where can I sign up to it?

Submission + - Lenovo will put Microsoft bloatware on their Android phones to avoid patent tax (zdnet.com)

LichtSpektren writes: In a deal between Microsoft and Lenovo, the latter's Android phones (and their subsidiary Motorola's as well) will begin shipping with Microsoft bloatware, including at least Office, OneDrive, and Skype.

For those who have not been following the story, for the past nine years Microsoft has been using their patents on the FAT file system and other technologies to extract somewhere between $5 and $15 per Android device sold.

Submission + - Canada's police chiefs want new law to compel people to reveal passwords (www.cbc.ca)

DaveyJJ writes: CBC is reporting that the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, "...has passed a resolution calling for a legal measure to unlock digital evidence, saying criminals increasingly use encryption to hide illicit activities."

The chiefs are recommending new legislation that would force people to hand over their electronic passwords with a judge's consent. RCMP Assistant Commissioner Joe Oliver is using the usual scare tactics ... "child-molesters and mobsters live in the 'dark web'" ... in his statement today to drum up public support in his poorly rationalized privacy-stripping recommendation.

A few years ago, Canada's Supreme Court ruled that police must have a judge's order to request subscriber and customer information from ISPs, banks and others who have online data about Canadians. I guess that ruling isn't sitting too well with law enforcement and Canada's domestic spy agencies.

Submission + - Anti-Minimum Wage App launched by Employment Policies Institute

TigerPlish writes: In an example of why it is imperative to question the funding of every single Think Tank and "Resarch Organization," CNN reports the "Employment Policies Institute" — a conservative think tank funded in DC by one Richard Berman — which lobbies against minimum wage hikes for the Restaurant, Hotel, Alcohol and Tobacco industries — has launched an iOS app called Wage Engage. According to another source:

Wage Engage allows business owners to track minimum wage legislation in states relevant to them, and to offer their opinion about the impact of such increases. "You have an asymmetric battle. You have organized labor groups who can devote their entire days to advocating for a higher minimum wage. Then you have small business owners who didn't have the time, or didn't know about [the legislation]. The app lets restaurant owners tell their story in a personal way," says Michael Saltsman, the group's research director.

Please be aware that this "Employment Policies Institute" has nothing to do with the "Economic Policies Institute," which is a liberal think tank, which I'm sure also has its own agenda not aligned with helping The People.

Comment Blame Internet Brands (Score 1) 85

Both the recent VerticalScope hack and this have one thing in common: vBulletin. It is a pile of junk, and especially since it was acquired by a firm known as Internet Brands. It is awful software, and a forum about an open source product which uses proprietary components is ethically unsound.

Comment Needs to be re-thought (Score 2) 278

Reading about failures like this makes me appreciate that both Canada and the United States have mandatory systems for the interruption of programming across all broadcasters, regardless of platform, in the event of a public emergency. Apps can help disseminate information, but they should not be constitute the only distribution path besides the media.

Comment Snappy is non-free anyway (Score 4, Interesting) 170

Only the client portion is free software. It only works with a proprietary, Canonical-run package repository. Canonical does not offer source code for the server aspect, and thus, does not offer the ability to create third-party servers. The entire system is subject to Canonical's walled garden.

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