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Comment This Article is Ignorant (Score 5, Insightful) 126

Chrome Incognito and FireFox's Private Browsing are functionally identical. The caveat that the author highlights is how the Internet works. Of course sites have a record of your visit... they have to, to feed you the page! The disclaimer is to make sure that people know Incognito mode is like wearing an Anonymous mask, not like being invisible. And if you go up to an ATM dressed like V, but get money out of your credit card, then obviously the bank knows who visited the ATM despite the mask.

This basic ignorance of how cookies work is pervasive.

Private browsing opens your browser in a blank-slate mode. Generally, no plugins, no cookies. That means Amazon doesn't know who you are, so you can't one-click buy. Your news-reader makes you log in again. It takes longer to access your email because Gmail makes you log in and re-affirm your authenticator. Your ad blocker is disabled. Your CSS fixing plugin is blocked.

This is not how I want to use my computer, logging in to every single site every single time I visit despite being on a trusted device. We have plugins and cookies for a reason, because they make the Internet a more useful tool. They also have nefarious uses, but saying that the Internet should throw out all convenience to maximize security is ignorant of the reality that people will just switch to the more convenient browser.

What we need is not a better incognito mode, but for tech journalists to stop pontificating about technology they do not understand.

If you really want to improve your anonymity online there are plugins that allow you to whitelist 'safe' cookies, and trash or block all the others. That plus plugins to block third-party widgets allow you to get 99% of the functionality from the Internet with only 1% of the spying. But these plugins take work on your part, to identify what sites and cookies you trust. Most people are too lazy. And the browser has no way of knowing for you. For example, I may want Amazon to remember me so I can buy with one click... you may not because you don't trust Amazon's tracking of what products you look at. The browser shouldn't be deciding that for you, but making choices like that for every site is a pain few users will bother with.

Comment Re:Here's a better idea (Score 1) 213

Red herring. The number of people in the US incarcerated by all of these laws you cite is... hmm... under 100? Maybe under 10?

How many people are in jail for marijuana possession? 100,000? A million?

Seriously, pick your battles. End the war on drugs if you want to begin to fix the incarceration problem. Those laws are expensive to create and maintain and do very little (think of software features nobody use), but they are not relevant to the problem brought up in this article.

Comment Re:so the CEO is an idiot? (Score 1) 167

Having worked for multiple small ISPs that served rural areas (Wireless Broadband, Dialup, and resold carrier DSL), you are full of shit sir. Broadband Uplinks (DS3, etc) from rural towns cost at most double what they do in a big city. But the upstream bandwidth to service our customers was under 10% of our infrastructure expenditures. I'm sure larger services have better economies of scale than a small ISP with customer counts under 10k.

Comment Re:The most disgusting part.. (Score 2) 420

The problem is that they are instituting a significant change to how their infrastructure is being maintained and deployed, removing experienced employees who set up and keep running the system that got them record profits and replacing them with an unknown, remote workforce that may or may not be able to do the job.

That's where your metaphor is spot on. Do you keep the 60,000 a year employee, or hire the 30,000 a year intern? Why do so many businesses keep the employee? Because they know he can do the job.

Comment Re:Hydogen is just a way to store energy (Score 1) 630

It's true that Ethanol is not made with crops intended for human consumption, but it is grown on land that in many cases used to grow crops for human consumption. Ethanol production too arable land away from food production, which in the end is close to the same end result as if it took the crop itself.

Comment Re:Books, Music, and APIs (Score 4, Interesting) 405

Ok, I'm going to take a slightly unpopular stance here and suggest that APIs probably should be copyrightable.

Ignoring all the legal issues, my rational is simple: An API spec represents the output of the intellectual effort of the architect far better than any implementation code. Designing a good API is difficult.

You forget that an important part of copyright is 'To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.' APIs are so fundamental to all creation, that being able to own an API would completely lock down and prevent the progress of science and useful art.

You can copyright a painting, but not a painting style. Even if your style of painting is new, innovative, unique, and you spent years developing your unique method... you do not get any control over others copying your technique and using it in their own works. (e.g. Picasso and Cubism, Seurat and Pointilism)

You can copyright a book, even a paragraph, but you cannot copyright a unique way of looking at the world. You could spend months on your ideas, on your unique take on a topic... but that does not grant you a copyright to the idea, only to the specific implementation of your paragraphs, chapters, and novels. (e.g. Tolkein and Elves, Niven and Ringworlds)

The reason that ideas (and, by extension, APIs) are not copyrightable is because the only way to claim ownership an idea is via Patents. Now you can have endless debates on what should or should not be patentable, how unique it is, and the merits (or lack) of software patents, but the end point is that if you believe your software idea deserves protection the only way you can is via a patent. Because copyright only protects a specific implementation of an idea, not the idea itself no matter how much work went into generating that idea.

Comment Hello, 1979 wants its ideas back. (Score 1) 386

A pulitzer prize winning non-fiction book, Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid gave a pretty convincing defense of exactly this. At best, this might be some experimental support of a long standing theory. "Free will" is merely a narrative that you create after the fact, since it's mathematically impossible to for any logical system to examine itself accurately. It's not that we don't know why we decide things... it's that we can't know why we decide things because that would violate Godel's incompleteness theorem.

Comment Re:"Unlimited nights and weekends" (Score 5, Interesting) 145

They can't. Even if they thought it was a good idea systemically.

  • What's sucking most people's bandwidth? Streaming.
  • What can't you timeshift? Streaming.
  • What can you timeshift? Torrenting.

So if they implemented time based data surcharges, they would drive users to piracy. Since Comcast and Time Warner both have significant media holdings, any policy that incentivized piracy (would be a non-starter.

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