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Comment Re:Won't work (Score 1) 481

  1. A ton of industrial printers work like this; "upgrades" are done by a technician coming out and updating firmware.
  2. The microphone on the Pebble Time series watches was disabled in software upon shipping and enabled via a software update later
  3. Intel did this in 2010 on some models of processor

And there are a lot more. In some cases, this is reasonable -- it's cheaper to make one version of something and then remove features to make it affordable, especially if it's something you're leasing/licensing; or the software to adequately support a feature just isn't ready yet. In other cases, it's market segmentation gone amok.

Comment Re:Just another scam (Score 2) 76

Insurance is a way to externalize risk by diluting it among a population -- I can take a known loss instead of accepting the entire risk of something bad happening. By definition, most people have to actually realize less risk than the individual insurance rate covers, but you gain huge advantages to having certainty of what your risk is.

Take fire insurance, for example. I insure a building that would cost $200k to rebuild, and it costs me $50/month. Given the chance of a fire actually occurring and causing enough damage to require a rebuild, my loss expectancy over the next 10 years is greater than what I pay in insurance. It seems scammy because there's a chance my loss over 10 years to fire will be $0, in which case I'm "out" $6k with no value returned, right?

But here's the thing -- I know exactly what it's going to cost me for insurance this year, and I can plan around that. I don't need to keep huge piles of cash on hand to rebuild that $200k structure. That means I can spend that money on growing my business, etc.; the value of being able to know what I'm on the hook for means I can keep a smaller amount of cash on hand, and that's absolutely value returned.

Insurance only becomes a bad deal if you entirely trust the insurance company to represent the risk fairly to you, or if you don't bother to assess whether a particular risk makes sense to externalize.

Comment Re:Someone doesn't understand the internet (Score 1) 76

Would it not be cheaper to maybe grow a bit thicker skin?

There is a pretty significant difference between the hand-wringing over "someone was mean to me" and actually being harassed or bullied. Just because some Tumblr kids don't know the difference doesn't mean there is no difference.

Harassment, for example, requires making contacts "in a manner that could be expected to cause distress or fear in any reasonable person" under UK law, not just being annoying. Growing a "thicker skin" isn't reasonable advice in response to actual harassment.

Comment Re:"Community groups are using social media, blogs (Score 1) 151

Yes, hypocrisy. The world is black and white, and people should avoid using something that's less than desirable, even when it's their only option currently, to advocate replacing that thing with a superior thing.

Advocates for eliminating wired networks for last mile should not use any; advocates for the telephone system should not have used the telegraph; advocates for reforming courts should not use them to effect change.

Comment Re:Link? (Score 1) 308

It's not that clearing your browsing history, throwing out old logs/emails or flushing your toilet are inherently illegal, it's when you use them and why.

Exactly; it's analogous to shredding documents. People shred documents all the time. If you do it as a matter of course (e.g. because of document retention policies, or just because you periodically clean and shred stuff you don't think you want anymore), you're not doing anything wrong.

But if the FBI asks you some investigative questions about something and then you immediately go shred a bunch of stuff, they're going to argue that you were doing that in order to destroy evidence. Intent matters. A lot.

Same thing here: if you're using incognito mode or routinely clearing history and cookies, there's no issue. If you do it in response to an investigation, they're going to argue you did it to destroy evidence. Intent matters.

Comment If not a password manager, then a password card (Score 1) 191

Writing down passwords isn't an automatic fail—it just means you need good physical security on whatever you write them down in. A notebook is bad advice, but writing them down on a wallet card or similar wouldn't be too bad.

Something like LastPass is probably your best bet, since it works everywhere (including Chromebook); though it isn't free if you want to use the mobile app, it is pretty inexpensive. Of course, if LastPass has an outage, you're gonna have a bad time.

As a security professional, I often recommend Password Cards (passwordcard.org) as a free, low-tech solution that hits a good balance among cost, security, and ease of use. The site generates a printable card (which is easy to make a backup of!) that has a row of symbols and then several rows of random text elements in color-coded rows. All you need to remember for each site is a symbol+color combo; then you simply start from that grid point and type the required number of characters. You could even safely note down the symbol+color for each site, because as long as you keep the card safe in your wallet, that information isn't useful.

It's not perfect, but it's quite good, free, and simple.

Comment Re:hmmmm (Score 1) 275

You have absolutely no idea what you're talking about. By your logic, I could hire someone to put an ad on television for me and I'd have no recourse if they instead make an ad for a competitor or make an ad that's just one long "FUUUUUUUUUUUCK".

All freedoms have limits, none are absolute. Freedom of speech, for example, does not include:

  • The right for you to place others in immediate danger as a result of your speech (e.g. the "yelling Fire in a crowded theatre" example)
  • The right for you to damage others' reputations through telling of falsehoods (libel and slander)
  • The right for private property owners to give you a platform -- I can kick you out of my building for your racist speech, but I can't kick you off the sidewalk

And those are just a few examples. The fact that you have freedom of speech means that you have the free choice to enter into an NDA or not. You cannot be coerced (this would invalidate the contract) to do so, and NDAs have to be limited in scope (you can't talk about this thing, specifically) and duration (I can't prevent you from talking about it forever).

Your ideas of both constitutional and contract law are incredibly naive.

Comment Re:Cute, But ... (Score 1) 128

If they don't like an app, it doesn't get in the store, and, unless you've broken your device (which is of questionable legality), you're limited to Apple approved apps.

You're limited to Apple-approved native apps. You can "install" HTML5-based apps (including ones with local storage that work offline) without any approval process from Apple. You won't have full access to all the device capabilities, but there you go.

Besides, GP was using examples of media content, not application content. Apple doesn't restrict what content you can view or load, and the formats they support are open standards. Hardly a restrictive regime, App Store aside.

Amazon can delete books you've bought, or even edit the content of books without your consent.

Again, when we're talking about device capabilities, that's a tiny slice. The Kindle supports a great many things that don't have Amazon DRM, and Amazon does not have the capabilities you describe with media that's not DRM-controlled. Again, you can read whatever you want on a Kindle provided it's in one of a handful of formats.

The GP is arguing that Google restricts what you can stream -- that is, content -- to the Chromecast, and likens it to Apple and Amazon. Firstly, it isn't true - you can stream pretty much any content you want to a Chromecast, as long as it'll load in a Chrome tab without 3rd-party plugins (and that means common open standards as well as Flash content). Secondly, even if it were true that Google makes content or content-provider restrictions, that would make them exceptional in the industry. Neither Apple nor Amazon prevent you from viewing content or accessing information you choose, so long as it's in one of the ubiquitous and standard formats.

Comment Re: nature and consumers (Score 1) 358

Spinach doesn't copy its DNA into a host.

No, but viruses often incorporate DNS from hosts, so a virus could grab DNA from spinach and inject it into an orange. That's what dgatwood is talking about -- viruses do this all the time, copying DNA between hosts. Humans are just doing what viruses do already, but with more precision and less randomness.

Comment Re:nature and consumers (Score 2) 358

Show many ANY time in nature where plants have modified themselves with ANIMALS and FISH

That's the Naturalistic Fallacy. Just because something doesn't occur in nature (I'll concede the term "in nature" as meaning "not done by humans") doesn't mean its bad, and just because something does occur in nature doesn't mean it's good.

Your exact argument could be applied to anything artificial: show me ANY time in nature where animals have harnessed electricity to build general-purpose information-processing devices and network them together, for example. Yet I don't see you crying for dismantling the Internet.

Show me ANY time in nature where animals synthesize chemicals that narrowly target diseases, and thus vastly improve their ability to survive. But you're not crying for the end of synthetic medicines.

Show me ANY time in nature where water is systematically treated to destroy infectious agents before it's consumed. But you're not crying for the end of water-treatment facilities.

Show me ANY time in nature where animals engineer vehicles to make transport faster and easier. But you're not campaigning for an end to bicycles.

Comment Re:Shortsighted techie ... (Score 1) 297

cripple the NSA, and you give free and secure communication to all sorts of undesirables. Allow the NSA unchecked, and make people transparent to the Government, (and worse expose them to typically stupid Government dragnet trawling).

That's a false dilemma. We have many more options than an unchecked NSA or a "crippled" NSA (though, note that taking away their ability to spy on US Citizens is only "crippling" in the sense that it would require them to return to their chartered mission as a foreign intelligence service...).

For example, most people aren't arguing that the NSA shouldn't be allowed to collect any of the sort of data they've been caught collecting. Just that it should have limited scope, and that they should have real accountability if they abuse their power. That neither cripples them (despite their claims) nor allows them unchecked, and that's just a simple example.

all electronic communications must be "tappable" unless you want to provide absolutely everyone with a safe channel for communication about their criminal, terrorist, or otherwise hostile business.

It's not quite that simple, even if it seems so on its face. When you make all communication tappable, you don't just allow the government access to communications of suspected bad actors. You also create something that can be abused by people in power (remember that the government is made up of people, and people do stupid things on a regular bases) -- from little things like a government worker using the capability to spy on a spouse to big things like government cracking down on dissent. And you create a system that can be attacked; if the US government can read your email, so can an attacker or a foreign government.

Keep in mind that the government is who defines what "criminal" is. If they have unlimited surveillance power -- even if it's only limited to "criminals" -- then it's a simple matter to change what "criminal" means until they can effectively listen in to any conversation they want. And quash dissent. Remember that almost every important campaign for rights involved "criminal" things -- from the fight for Women's Suffrage to the protests and campaigns for civil rights in the 1960's. These movements did "criminal" things in part to point out that they shouldn't be criminal things. To give the government absolute ability to stop criminal activity would be a very bad thing.

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