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Comment Re:Free speech (Score 1) 113

You know what, I completely forgot about the Do Not Call registry. Thanks for reminding me. I'm registered now and I'll be sure to report any stray calls after the grace period ends.

Regarding trespass, it could be argued that a sidewalk from the street to my door, which most houses have, is an implied invitation. Especially if the primary means of getting in and out of the house by the owner is through the garage. But you are right, a simple "no trespassing" sign should be sufficient. How would a "no trespassing" sign work on a phone? As I mentioned, the phone companies already have all the call data. All they need is the time of the call and they can trace it to its origin. (I used to work for a cell phone company in the 1990s. We had it then. It was used for billing purposes. I'm sure they still have the means to connect every call end-to-end based on nothing more than a time and the recipient). Enforcement is just a matter pf public will.

Regarding "one more law"-- as robots and AI continue to progress and move into society, brace yourself for a whole new category of laws we are going to need.

Comment Free speech (Score 1) 113

I've read that robocalls cannot be made explicitly illegal because they are protected as free speech, like junk mail.
But that's a bad comparison. Here are some details that might have been overlooked.

1. Fee speech is protected in public spaces and forums like newspapers, etc. and the government operated postal service (you don't get junk mail from UPS or Fedex). My phone is not a public space. A better analogy than a mailbox would be to treat my phone like the front door to my house. It is the front door to my life actually.

2. Door-to-door sales people and church solicitors often knock on my door. I have a nifty tool called a peephole that allows me to determine whether I want to open the door or not.

3. If I put up a fence around my property, they cannot get to my front door without committing the crime of trespassing. Free speech does not protect someone in putting up a loudspeaker in front of my house to broadcast a recorded sales pitch. My phone should fall into that same category. It is harassment, not free speech to have these robots call me day after day after day.

Now, consider this. In a world where automated robots cruise the streets knocking on people's doors and offering to sell them things, as often as two or three times per day, each and every day, (as often as I get calls from robo-callers), how long would this stand before it becomes regulated? How long before enterprising entrepreneurs start offering home defense tools to make the robots go away? How long before we all start putting up fences? I want a fence around my phone.

What we need is not a disingenuous technological solution from a phone company with a conflicted interest. Simply make it illegal to make pre-recorded phone calls that are not pre-approved by the recipient. Make it illegal to obfuscate the caller-ID system and make text-based caller ID mandatory for anything commercial. The technology is already there and this serves the same purpose as the peep hole on my front door. Notice I didn't use the word "spoof". We don't care what the method is, we care what the intention is. If they intend to confuse or deceive us into thinking it's not a pre-recorded call, that's illegal, regardless of the technicalities.

Free speech is still intact because a human can still make the call, just as a human can knock on my door to try and sell me pest control services or soul-saving sermons. But humans are expensive and this will be self limiting. Pre-approved messages, such as appointment reminders for existing appointments (as with a doctor) are exempted from the ban.

With caller-ID and unapproved prerecorded messages laws on the books, with hefty fines for each infraction, the calls will stop. Cell phone and other telephone system call logs are all that's needed to prove the crime. Phone companies already have these records, in abundance. Phone calls are easily traced, even after the fact.

Just make them illegal. There are already limitations to free speech. Extending your commercial messages into my private space should be one of them. Just imagine how you'd feel if every window in your house became a TV commercial, because you know, it's not impossible to project an image from across town onto your windows. Is that free speech? Perhaps, but it's also an intrusion into my personal, private space. A phone is my personal, private space. Free speech does not apply there.

Comment Re:Space Patrol Unsatisfactory (Score 1) 180

Not bitcoin. Replicators don't run on bitcoin.

In a replicator society, the value of things becomes related to the energy and time it takes to make them, not in the scarcity of the materials and labor. Let's assume our replicator can transmute elements, so the main feed stock is water, split into hydrogen and oxygen, then transmuted into whatever elements are needed and assembled atom by atom. I'm sure some of the nuclear physicists here can calculate the minimum energy needed to do all the transmutations.

So where does the energy come from? This is the main point of scarcity. Energy. Sure, real estate, physical space, human labor (both physical and intellectual) still have value, but typically only one thing is the basis for a currency -- gold, a government's promise, blockchains, etc... In the replicator economy, the only thing that makes sense is energy. Units of energy will be traded as money. Need a new coat, that's four million units. A new yacht? Sixty trillion. If you've got the energy budget, you can have whatever you want within your budget and the size of your replicator will allow.

Again, where will all this energy come from? At the moment, the only thing that makes sense and can supply orders of magnitude more energy than we currently use is a Dyson Swarm. Basically, energy companies will never go away, nor the people who own/manage/organize and control them. There will always be rich people who get the prime real estate and have the best servants and use/consume the rarest goods. And the rest of us will look up to them and feel deprived, even though a modest life today offers far, far more variety and comfort than the wealthiest person of a century or two ago could have ever had. And pomp is vastly overrated.

Oh, if anyone thinks the residents of the future will only use a little more energy than we do, I'm sure the people of the 19th century probably believed the same thing. Who among us would willingly return to a time without AC, cars, computers, paved roads, modern medicine, etc. etc. etc. If we do fall back to a pre-industrial level, it will only be because of a lack of imagination, effort and will.

Comment Re:Subspace Signal (Score 1) 96

I know it's a joke, but I essentially had the same thought when I heard about Hawkins and that Russian billionaire's plan to make marble sized starships and hurl them at Proxima Centauri. I couldn't help thinking how the Tau Cetians, et al, probably already did that to us. How would we ever detect a marble hurling through the solar system? Especially if it's a one-time event? Better yet, what if we caught just a glimpse of a signal it sent back home???

The point is, if we are at the cusp of such capabilities, surely someone else has already done it. And surely our star system is a target-- as the knowledge about where habitable planets might exist and how to find them becomes better known...

Comment Re:Fact vs. Fiction (Score 1) 760

Or in my case, a year after I bought a nice little farm house, a cement fixture factory went up next door. The noise and dust were incredible.
That's what I get for buying property outside the city in an un-zoned area. Won't make that mistake again unless I have quite a lot of acreage.

Oh give me a home... but with an HOA this time please.

Comment Re:I've watched as the iTunes UI deteriorated.. (Score 1) 462

Oh, I hadn't noticed any changes. I guess I'm part of a different "in crowd". I stopped using Apple's music app years ago when they decided I needed to relearn their app on every update. I am simply too busy to have to re-learn a friggin music app on every release. Today I use pandora, actual CDs and (gasp!) the radio, actually transmitted via Frequency Modulation over the EM spectrum. I have a special device for this. It's kind of an antique in today's world but, amazingly, it still works. It's called a "clock radio". Yeah, that's how I fight tyranny. It's a little inconvenient, but far, far better than the frustration and demeaning I get from a stupid app that's advertised to make my life better but only makes me feel incompetent.

This is the failure in your thesis. It ignores competition and innovation. Obscurity is an obstacle for the consumer that a competitor (in a free market anyway) will exploit. But apple's app store is not quite a free market. Neither is the smart-phone market if you're not a big enough player.

While we're at it, HEY APPLE, WHAT THE FUCK WAS WRONG WITH "SAVE" AND "SAVE AS" ???? WHAT THE FUCK IS "SAVE A VERSION" SUPPOSED TO MEAN WHEN I CAN'T SPECIFY A SEPARATE NAME OR PLACE FOR MY "VERSION" ???? This change alone, this minor loss of control over my filesystem was enough to make me download and install Linux (Mint) and try it out. Unfortunately, Linux is still too "hobby" for serious work in my office. We need a viable alternative.

Hey, all you tech folks, quit yer complainin' and make a better widget. Reverse engineer apple's music database and make a new interface to play it. Advertise it here. If it's good, we'll all download it for a dollar, or less (see my point?)

When the giants become too powerful and start forcing the little people to grovel, the little people have a duty to chop down the giants at their ankles and bring them down.

Also, In 1900 every car manufacturer had a different way to drive their cars. Some used a throttle on the dash instead of a foot pedal, some had different gear shift patterns, etc... Buy a different car and you had to learn to drive all over again. Today, aside from the location of the wipers and cruise control, all cars work pretty much the same. Why? Because the consumers demanded it.

Usability. Demand it or create it. Fuck the goddamn secret handshake society.

Comment It's only half the sugar that's bad. (Score 1) 428

Sugar (sucrose) is two things -- glucose (also called dextrose) and fructose in a 50/50 split.

"High fructose" just means 55% fructose, 45% glucose.

According to the scientist in this lecture (link below), it's only the fructose that's bad for you, no matter what percentage is in your source.
Fructose is found in fruit too, but that's not as bad because fruit is also high in fiber, unlike a soda or candy bar. Fiber seems to mitigate the fructose.
Also, fructose is almost as bad for your liver as alcohol. Soda or beer. Same difference to the liver. (There's a whole lot more fructose in a soda than there is alcohol in a beer.) Think about that the next time you five your kids a soda.

We switched to using dextrose instead of sucrose and increased our fiber. The results were notable.

Here's the video --

Comment Re:The car is great to drive, but... (Score 1) 222

That's actually a great idea. I'm looking forward to self driving cars. Truly. But there was a podcast recently -- planet money, where they talked about all the reasons self-driving cars will probably ship without steering wheels or foot pedals. I think that's a bad idea. Just thinking of all the times I've had to wait in line at a valet station, or changed my mind when I saw how busy a restaurant was then drove off aimlessly while pondering where to go next, saw a store in passing and suddenly remembered I needed something there and decided to duck-in real quick... Unless the human-machine interface is really, really, good, I'm not ready to give up the steering wheel.

Comment Re:alternately: (Score 1) 492

You make a good point. Google could easily buy some small countries with the cash they have laying around. Why not recreate the "company town" concept from the turn of the 20th century? Google could buy enough land in the mid-west or anywhere, really, and build a campus with apartments and single family homes and parks and shopping centers and everything. I've never understood why these big companies insist on staying in SF or NY or LA.

Also, while it may only cost $100K to build the structure, it's the dirt under it that has the real cost. The price of real estate is governed by supply and demand, and it's in scarce supply. As a former home owner in LA, the house was only worth about 180K, the dirt under it was worth $650K. A lot of houses get bought and immediately razed to make room for a new house.

Comment Re:alternately: (Score 1) 492

Congrats on the move to sanity!

I sold my little 1400 sq. ft. home in LA with no yard for $850K, then used that money to buy a little 2800 sq. ft. home near San Antonio, TX, with a friggin 65 acre back yard!!! I make less money here, a lot less. But hell, there's almost never a real traffic jam, the food is cheaper, the schools are much better and my three kids all have their own electric motorcycles and a twelve-acre race track to play on. We launch rockets, fly kites and have a tree house bigger than most Manhattan apartments. For us, a backyard camp out really is a camp out, stargazing, camp fire and all.

Yeah, life is a LOT better here. Zero regrets.

Comment Re:The car is great to drive, but... (Score 1) 222

Yeah, my refrigerator even has a freaking touch sensitive "button" to turn the light on. Damned if I can find it in the middle of the night though. I specifically looked for a fridge with tactile buttons when I replaced it. Couldn't find one. So now I've got one of those battery operated LED pods mounted to the door, but that doesn't help the cube/crush ice button sense my hard, calloused fingers any better. I have the same problem on those touch-screen POS systems at the stores now too. I like to joke that I'm just a damn good looking zombie when the checker notices my fingers have no effect on the touch screen "These things don't work for dead people." I calmly tell them as I reach for the stylus or ask them to touch it for me.

Any sufficiently advanced technology shouldn't have to be hacked it just to make it usable. Enough with the bells and whistles that only get in the way of what I need to do instead of helping me do it.

And while we're on the topic of self-driving cars... A thought occurred to me in the parking lot of Best Buy. How the hell are self-driving cars going to navigate a parking lot and find a spot near the store I want to go to?
What if I notice a different store and change the plan at the last minute?
What search strategy will it use to seek that one open spot in a full lot?
I'll keep the steering wheel, thanks.

Comment An easy fix for everyone. (Score 1) 474

As a former LA Times employee and lead engineer on several of their spin-off web sites, I don't understand why this is such a problem.

I only recently installed adblocking software on all my devices. I resisted, but ultimately I had to. Reading on-line had become extremely unpleasant, or occasionally impossible in the case of some of my older equipment. Adblocking was a breath of fresh air. Now pages actually load instead of hanging for minutes at a time, I don't have to be followed everywhere... you know the story.

But there are a few places I still see ads, even though I've got the most aggressive settings turned on (angry, I was.) I don't mind the ads I see, because they are respectful, done the old-school way, like newspapers, magazines, TV and radio have always done it. The ad is the same media as the host, served right along with the other content. No weird redirects, no waiting for content from a multitude of servers to load, no friggin javascript nonsense, etc. etc. etc.

Hey publishers, you want to save the net and get revenue too? Take a lesson from the old school and go back to delivering the ad embedded in the content, in a way that's respectful of your users.
Hey advertisers, stop being so friggin nefarious and maybe we'll accept your existence like we do elsewhere. When I'm reading a story from the NY Times, blocking the images from the story only hurts me. Give the publisher the display ad just like you did in the columns of the actual paper and our ad-blocking software won't even know its there.

Everybody can win with a method that's tried and true. Until I am respected by the advertiser, I will not respect the advertiser, nor the publisher who gives them a place to shout from. I will go back to reading actual printed media instead. Ain't no javascript there.

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