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Submission + - We must—but can't—untangle law enforcement surveillance & state (medium.com)

Snowmit writes: Eleanor Saitta argues that calls from civil society to reduce the scope of surveillance misunderstand the blurry line between law enforcement and state intelligence. "Enforcement of law requires the state to either know of or suspect a violation of the law has occurred," where state intelligence "has a mission to both find previously unknown threats and to find secret information about the lawful activities of entities the state has a structurally adverse relationship with." Can we separate these functions? Saitta isn't optimistic.

Submission + - September is Cyborg Month (tumblr.com)

Snowmit writes: In May 1960, Manfred E. Clynes and Nathan S. Kline presented a paper called "Drugs, Space, and Cybernetics". The proceedings of the symposium were published in 1961 but before that, an excerpt of Clynes & Kline's paper appeared in the September issue of Astronautics magazine (issue 13), entitled Cyborgs and Space [PDF]. Aside from a mention in the New York Times, that's is the first time the word appears in print. This month is the 50th anniversary of that article.

To commemorate, a group of writers and artists have gotten together to create 50 Post About Cyborgs. Over the course of the month, there will be essays, fiction, links to great older material, comics, and even a song. We're going to talk about Daleks, IEDs, Renaissance memory palaces, chess computers, prosthetic imagination, Videodrome, mutants, sports, and maybe the Bible. To kick things off, Kevin Kelly wrote this essay arguing that we've been cyborgs all along.


Submission + - Microsoft helps Russia pursue opposition (nytimes.com)

asaz989 writes: The New York Times reports that Russia selectively pursues software piracy complaints from Microsoft in order to suppress the opposition — confiscating computers for evidence, searching offices, and the like. Microsoft lawyers usually back the authorities in such cases, even when cases such as that of the environmentalist group Baikal Waves, which went out of its way to buy licenses to prevent police harassment and nevertheless had its offices raided, and its computers confiscated. Microsoft participated in this legal process. Published alongside this story, under the same byline, is a related piece on the collusion of Microsoft lawyers with corrupt Russian police in extorting money from the targets of software piracy investigations. In a responding press release, the company states, 'Microsoft antipiracy efforts are designed to honor both [antipiracy concerns and human rights], but we are open to feedback on what we can do to improve in that regard.'

Submission + - Is Android's Openness a Bug or a Feature?

theodp writes: When MG Siegler asked TechCrunch readers why they chose Android, a large percentage of the nearly 1,000 who responded cited the idea of 'openness.' In theory, Siegler's right with them. But in reality, he finds that idea to be 'a load of crap' — Android is as open as the clenched fist he'd like to punch the mobile carriers with. Instead of consumers being able to choose what they want on their own devices, 'open' is proving instead to mean that the carriers can choose what they want to do with Android, locking down features like tethering, app installation, and even Android upgrades. 'This is an open platform,' laments Siegler, 'and yet you're more restricted than on Apple's supposedly closed one.'

Comment Re:Meh. (Score 1) 77

By your hilarious logic, keyboards should come completely unlabelled, because any labelling is just a crutch for people who are too lazy to learn to touch-type.

There are tonnes of applications for a self documenting input device, the least of which is preventing needless staring at a manual while you learn a new program's interface.

The important point though is that this is an innovation contest. Thousands of students will spend more time thinking about this than you did before dismissing it and it's highly likely that some of them will come up with something really cool.

But yes, it probably won't help you to get better at using the software to which you are already zenly attuned.

Comment Re:Do not want. (Score 1) 497

However to suggest it was "designed" for creating, rather than consuming (within their walled garden), seems quite a stretch. I don't even recall Apple pitching that

Really? Because I do. The announcement of the device featured longish demos of a painting program (Brushes) and the 3 office apps (Pages, Numbers, Keynote). The iOS4 announcement included a video editing program. I'll be extremely surprised if that doesn't end up on the iPad too.

Comment Re:Walled garden discussions (Score 2, Insightful) 144

I've got another one for you: PC gaming vs Console gaming

PCs have been around longer, have more options re: hardware & software, not to mention complete freedom for developers to charge and distribute however they wish, along with extreme modability. Meanwhile consoles are hampered by incredibly restrictive walled gardens, developer-hostile revenue splits and licensing and they only release new hardware every few years.

Given the obvious openness and freedom of PC gaming compared to console gaming it may come as a surprise that console games outsell PC games at ratios around 5:1.

(Source: http://forum.pcvsconsole.com/viewthread.php?tid=15831)

So now your job is to show that Android vs Apple is more like Internet vs AOL than it is like PCs vs Consoles.

Comment Re:Vectrex (Score 2, Insightful) 492

Pompei is an instructive example and I'm glad you used it. Archaeologists learned an ENORMOUS amount about how people lived in that era because the lava essentially flash-froze a city. The arbitrariness of Pompei was enormously beneficial to posterity because as it turns out the people between us and them had no idea what the future would want to know about the past or didn't care.

Humanity has a long history of burning, tossing, losing, and destroying its cultural history only to have scholars hundreds or thousands of years later lamenting that loss. It's unknowable what we lost when the Library of Alexandria got burned down. We nearly lost the ability to read hieroglyphs, but for the partially shattered Rosetta stone. The BBC Domesday laserdiscs were created and lost within living memory and there's no question that it would have been valuable to have kept them.

Accurate, robust, valuable archives do not work well with the stochastic market- and whim-driven collective approach that you recommend. Over and over again, the things that are uninteresting NOW become things that are extremely interesting in the future.

Comment Re:Frustration (Score 1) 239

1. Juries are unpredictable and its often better for all sides to get a predictable result. See also the difference between the settlements around the RIAA vs the cases that went to trial.

2. Poor people settle all the time. They settle, they plea bargain, etc. This happens at all scales of income.

3. The courts are over burdened. Settlements reduce the need for judges (not cheap) juries (significant hardship on jurors) court space/services etc. You could say that "well just have more courts" but there is a balance of priorities. There are piles of things clamouring for our attention and tax dollars. Every case going to trial leads to a ballooning court system. Not good.

4. If both sides in a settlement can agree about here the trial is most likely to go, it makes more sense to just go there yourself and skip the formalities.

5. If it's trial or nothing and you think that the only cases that should go to trial are the ones where the prosecutor is sure of conviction, that reduces the amount of justice, not increases it. It means that more companies get away with more crimes.

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